Pesto is simple. It’s basically just basil, Parmesan cheese, and nuts. So what is a vegan to do when you never have fresh basil laying around, you don’t eat cheese, and you are allergic to walnuts?
I found myself in this predicament, made a few substitutions, and now I have a new favorite sauce. There’s always a huge box of fresh baby spinach in our refrigerator, and I love pine nuts (okay this isn’t so much a substitution as a totally normal ingredient in many pesto recipes). As for the cheese…nutritional yeast to the rescue!
This recipe only requires a food processor with the S-blade. If you don’t have one, a blender will do the trick.
- 4 cups of fresh baby spinach or arugula
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of pine nuts
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt
- Put all ingredients into the food processor
- Blend until evenly smooth
I told you it was simple! If you have dried basil on hand, you can always add this to the olive oil in advance of blending, but the recipe will be just as tasty with no basil at all. As with anything, the quality of the ingredients will really change the final product. Make sure to pick out any soggy spinach or arugula leaves, and use good oil. We have really nice olive oil from Italy that we only use for dipping bread or making pesto. I think that’s our secret ingredient.
While pictured here on regular spaghetti, this recipe also tastes great on zucchini noodles. Crank out some zoodles with a spiralizer for an all-veggie, lower-carb, lower sugar, dinner.
Whether you pile this on pasta or put a gluten-free, paleo, Whole 30 spin on it…may you have a full belly and happy heart!