Chef Jason Wyrick of The Vegan Taste was kind enough to share his basic dairy-free pesto recipe with us. It’s a fabulous vegan recipe that is perfect on pasta, proteins, or vegetables, and it can be adapted in a pinch!
A Basic Dairy-Free Pesto Recipe Created by a Vegan Chef
To start us out, Chef Jason has some tips for making, presenting, and enjoying this dairy-free pesto recipe.
Find a small, white serving dish, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and place the pesto in that with a small serving spoon. That’s if you’re going to serve it separately. Usually, pesto is either placed in a small mound on top of another recipe or spread on top of it.
If you do not serve this dairy-free pesto fresh, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to keep the basil from oxidizing, cover it with plastic wrap, and store it in your refrigerator.
Complementary Food and Drinks
Vegan pesto is incredibly versatile. It can be mixed into a soup, thinned out to make a sauce, tossed with veggies, spread on top of something, or be served as a dollop. It can even be used as a dip! One classic recipe with which you can try this is bruschetta. Also, try thinning it out a bit and using it as a thick pasta sauce, lightly coating the pasta.
Where to Shop
Trader Joe’s is absolutely the best commercial chain at which to purchase the basil. You can get a big box of organic basil there for just over $2.00. You can also get big bags of pine nuts at Costco for a very good price.
How It Works
Dairy-free pesto is fairly easy. It’s basically basil blended with fat to make it rich and the garlic is added for a hint of pungent bite. The pine nuts are the main fatty taste with the olive oil added in to smooth it out. The high fat content is one reason that pesto is served as an accent to a dish.
Tips for Customizing this Versatile Vegan Pesto Recipe
The recipe below is a wonderful, basic dairy-free pesto that you can customize to fit your mood and meal. Here are some variation ideas for this simple recipe:
- Different nuts offer different flavor profiles; walnuts are particularly nice in vegan pesto, but you can use any nut you like in place of the pine nuts to shake things up a little.
- For nut-free, I adore sunflower seeds in vegan pesto. Simply replace the pine nuts with an equivalent amount of sunflower seeds.
- Add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the mix, either before blending or stirred in after for a chunky-style sauce.
- If you desire a bit of that Parmesan tang, add a twist of lemon to taste. You can also increase the salt for more intensity if desired.
- For a deeper cheesy vibe, add some nutritional yeast before blending. Start with a small amount (nutritional yeast can easily overpower), like 1 teaspoon, and add more to taste for a more pungent flavor.
- Swap half of the basil for another herb; mint leaves are actually an amazing flavor pairing with basil.
Special Diet Notes: Basic Dairy-Free Pesto
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup basil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Place the pine nuts in a food processor, followed by the garlic, salt, oil, and finally the basil.
- Press down the basil before securing the lid.
- Pulse the ingredients about five times to initiate the mixing action.
- Blend the ingredients until they well combined, but still a little coarse.
This recipe is reprinted with permissions from the February 2009 issue of the Vegan Culinary Experience.