This recipe is easy, fast, and has many applications. You can use this vegan pesto as a condiment, to dress pasta or zoodles, as a pizza sauce, on grilled vegetables, stirred into risotto and more. This recipe yields ~1 cup of vegan pesto. For the best flavor, make it right before you want to use it.
Sautéing whole garlic cloves in the olive oil before adding it to the blender accomplishes two things. First, it cooks the garlic through a bit, and takes some of the edge off of it. And second, it helps infuse the olive oil with some of the garlic, as well.
No need to take the basil or parsley leaves off the stems. Pack your measuring cup with stems and all. You’re going to pulverize those babies in the blender, so don’t worry about it. Save time, and get more out of the plant!
However, with the fresh oregano, I would recommend ripping the leaves from the stem. Sometimes, oregano stems can be woody, which is less desirable for the overall texture. Use your judgement.
Finally, making this sauce over and over again, I’ve learned it’s important not to be shy with the salt. Standard pesto sauce has a hard Italian cheese in it (like parmesan or pecorino romano), and that usually brings the salty component to the flavor. Here, we are relying on nutritional yeast and a good amount of salt to stand in for cheese. If you taste it and it feels like it is missing something, add a little more salt and see where it lands. I’ve found it usually does the trick.
So, get blending, and start slapping this pesto on everything that needs a fresh Italian flavor fix!
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, packed
3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, packed
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (see note above)
1. In a small skillet, add garlic cloves and olive oil. Set the heat to HIGH. When it just starts sizzling, turn heat down to low. Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until it is golden on all sides without burning or browning it (~3 minutes–stirring it around). Turn off the burner and set skillet aside to cool.
2. When garlic and olive oil has cooled a bit, add to a blender with all the rest of the ingredients listed above. Blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust flavor, if needed (salt? lemon juice?). Use as a condiment, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, coating for veggies going on the grill, and more. Be creative!