Non-Dairy Basil Pesto


Basil is everywhere at the farmer’s market.  I like to take advantage of this and make some fresh pesto.  For this recipe, I thought I’d forego the parmesan and make a non-dairy basil pesto.  It’s a bit untraditional using walnuts instead of pine nuts as well but I like to mix up what kind of nuts I use in pesto.  This would be perfect over some gluten free pasta with summer squash and grape tomatoes.  That might just be the essence of summer.
Non-dairy-pesto-ingredientsI’m always trying to make easy recipes.  The one does need the walnuts toasted but everything else happens in a mini-prep cuisinart. I like it a bit chunky so there’s a little tooth to the pesto when mixing it in to pasta or over grilled summer squash.  Pesto can be loosely interpreted  into combination of many different ingredients.  Parsley, cilantro, or even kale all work as the green leaves in pesto.  Nuts can be swapped out as well, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, or even cashews.  Just remember to toast them to bring out their flavor.  To me, garlic needs to be in the pesto but that’s my preference.  A bit of lemon zest brightens the pesto but isn’t really necessary.  If you do want to add cheese then start with just a little bit of a hard cheese.  Keep adding it and then the salt to your taste.
Non-dairy-pesto-quickprep Storing pesto is easy as well.  I like to add a bit more olive oil on top of the pesto to seal it from the air.  That way you can keep the bright green color from the basil a bit longer. You can also freeze the pesto in ice cube trays if you want to keep it a few months.  That way you can take a cube out and add it into a pan with some veggies. It’s a quick way to add flavor into a bland sauté.  Non-dairy-pesto

Non-Dairy Basil Pesto


  • 1 bunch of basil leaves
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts


  1. Toast walnuts in pan on the stove, set aside when golden brown. (Be sure not to burn them as it will make the pesto bitter)
  2. Add into a mini-prep Cuisinart the basil leaves, lemon zest, garlic, and walnuts.
  3. Initially use the slower setting to chop the ingredients.
  4. Add the olive oil through the hole in the top of the mini-prep while whirling the ingredients on high.
  5. Add a pinch of salt, whirl to combine, taste and keep adding bit by bit if needed.
  6. To store, put in a glass container and add a bit of olive oil on top covering the pesto. (this will keep the green color)

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