Monday 2 July 2012

Basic Pesto

Vegan Pesto

So, apologies to the daily food blog readers who have seen this before as it's already posted there but I decided as I get so few readers over there it should be on the main blog. Plus, it's rather crazy that my all time favourite meal isn't on the blog yet - pesto pasta. I know, it's very basic and common but I love it, I could seriously eat bucket loads of pesto pasta and love pesto on just about anything :-) Plus, as we now have a garden we now have loads of basil growing like mad which is fab as pesto takes a lot of basil - even for a small amount!

I have been using this recipe since we pretty much became vegan, finding a good pesto recipe was going to be essential to my transition after all! ;-) The only reason I haven't blogged it yet is that it's essentially not my recipe - this is basically the pesto recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and it's brilliant. I decided to blog it as I have used my preferred pine nuts here and have scaled it down to suit enough pasta to serve 4.
Vegan Pesto

Basic Pesto: serves 4 as a pasta sauce.
20g pine nuts
50g fresh basil
2 small or 1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
60ml extra virgin olive oil
4 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes ground to a powder.
1 tsp lemon juice

300g pasta to serve four

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and set aside. Wash and dry the basil then place in a food processor with the nuts, garlic and salt. Process until finely chopped, stop and scrape down the sides if need be. With the processor running slowly pour the olive oil down the chute until all added then process until fine in texture. Add the lemon juice and yeast and process again.

Note - I actually prefer to use a mortar and pestle here as my food processor struggles with smaller quantities. I'll use it to finely chop the basil, to make it all smaller but you can just chop it with a knife. Then I transfer to the mortar and pestle and pound it with circular motions with the pine nuts, chopped garlic and salt until it's a paste then I'll add the lemon juice to loosen it up then slowly add the olive oil, bit by but until it's the consistency you see above, smooth but still grainy. I then stir in the nutritional yeast until dissolved and creamy. This is actually the more traditional way to make pesto which, according to Wikipedia actually means "to pound" and is the same root word we get pestle from! So there you go, be traditional, ditch the food processor and get a little workout!!

Cook the pasta in well salted water and drain, any type is good here but I do love this Fusilli Lunghi Bucati No. 5 by De Cecco I've used here :-) Return to the pot and toss the pesto in, mixing well. It's important to do this off the heat, don't heat pesto as the basil can turn black and the flavour will be compromised, just toss it in the hot drained pasta and go! If it seems a little dry, sometimes I'll add a little more olive oil, sometimes a little pasta cooking water (depends if I'm dieting or not!) Season with salt and or pepper if needed at the table.

Vegan Pesto Pasta

Of course you can add loads of add ins to this - we love cherry tomatoes, or sometimes sun dried tomatoes and sliced black olives. Fried vegan chicken strips would be lovely, seitan or some white cannellini beans for added protein would all go well too.

Source: Slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Nutritional Information: Based on 1 serving out of 4.

Calories: 422
Protein: 10.2g
Fat: 19.2g
Sat Fat: 2.5g
Fibre: 2.2g
Carbs: 55.9g
Sugar: 2g
Sodium: 196mg


  1. Thank you for posting the recipe! I love basil and I am glad it's finally summer and the basil bunches pop up everywhere.

  2. Oh how I love fresh pesto - yours looks wonderful! And I LOVE the pasta you used, looks so fun to eat! :)

  3. Pesto is definitely one of my favorites. I made a sundried tomato pesto this past weekend which turned out delicious, but I have to admit that basil pesto will always have my heart. Funny enough, I never even tried pesto until I went vegan, so the thought of putting cheese in it just seems bizarre to me :)

  4. Thanks so much for the comments! Maggie, I even forgot that I have a great sun-dried tomato pesto recipe on here, lol (you know you blog too much when....) I'll have to add it to the end there :-)


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