I think you’d have to agree that home made basil pesto completely kicks butt when compared with store-bought pesto. And the good news for us vegans is that you don’t need parmesan cheese (at least not the dairy kind!) to make it taste as good as the original recipe.
Another thing about store-bought pestos is that you’ll often find nasty ingredients like hydrogenated oils, additives and preservatives. So as with most things, fresh is best.
If you’ve got a basil plant at home that’s going crazy, then turning it into a delicious plant-based pesto really is the best(o) way to use it up.
So, let’s get into…
All you need for this recipe is:
- Fresh basil
- Fresh garlic
- Hemp seeds (option to use half pine nuts)
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegan parmesan (not essential – recipe includes alternative)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper
If you’ve made my vegan parmesan cheese before, there’s a good chance you’ll always have some on hand in your fridge (because it’s seriously so EASY)! But if not, I do recommend whipping some up to use for this recipe.
When I first started making this vegan pesto, I was using half pine nuts, half hemp seeds out of fear of it tasting too “hempy”. But the first time I tried it with 100% hemp seeds, I was pleasantly surprised! The basil and garlic do a great job of covering up any overpowering hemp flavour, but the resulting pesto is as perfectly creamy and satisfying.
And then you get all the benefits of those incredible little hemp seeds, that are jam-packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids!
Yes, “process” is the keyword here. To make an authentic pesto, you really need to use a food processor, as opposed to a blender or stick mixer. Blending your pesto will result in more of a creamy dip, rather than a chunky pesto.
In saying that, you can potentially get away with a blender if you use the pulse setting and are really careful not to over-blend it, but in my experience it always ends up a bit too smooth with a blender.
Start with the lowest speed on your processer and use the pulse setting, especially if you like a chunky pesto. You can then just keep on pulsing to make it less chunky, until it’s exactly the consistency you like it.
I like it somewhere in between chunky and smooth, like this:
Probably my favourite way to enjoy this pesto (other than straight off the spoon) is dipped in fresh sourdough bread – yummo. But you go and enjoy it however your creative mind desires 😉
Healthy, flavour-packed & dairy-free
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds (*see notes)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves loosely packed
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 cloves fresh minced garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (**see notes)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Add all ingredients to a food processer and pulse until pesto has reached your desired consistency.