Make vegan Pesto at home that will beat anything you could buy at the store both in flavor richness and healthy benefits!! This recipe harnesses the rich cheesiness of the cashew nut and also uses a surprise bunch of spinach to boost your green intake and stretch the tasty goodness!
This dairy-free pesto is fantastic on:
- fresh bruschetta
- crostini with fresh sliced tomatoes and vegan mozzarella cheese
- as a sandwich spread
Related recipe: Vegan Pasta Salad
What ingredients do you need to make vegan pesto?
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 2 ups fresh spinach
- ½ cup cashews - or substitute sunflower seeds if you have prefer a nut-free pesto
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes - this adds the "cheesy" flavor that makes an amazing flavor without using Parmesan cheese. I use nutritional yeast in my vegan Parmesan recipe, too!
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ lemon) - fresh is best! I love using this lemon squeezer to quickly get some lemon juice
- ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
To make a nut-free vegan pesto:
Use roasted sunflower seeds instead of the cashews!
Tools to make pesto:
I prefer to make this pesto in the food processor as it leaves the texture of the cashews a little rougher which contributes to the 'parmesan-like' texture. This small food processor is PEFECT for pesto.
But you can use a blender too. Your pesto might come out a bit smoother but certainly still amazing!
Related recipe: Creamy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Pasta
How do you make vegan pesto?
Start by measuring dry cashews into a food processor or blender.
Pulse the cashews until they are mostly powdery, but still slightly chunky. See the pic below for the ideal texture.
Next gather the rest of your ingredients: basil leaves, spinach, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, nutritional yeast flakes, and salt.
Put all the ingredients into the food processor together and process until almost entirely smooth.
Look at that green perfection!!! Bet you can't wait to taste it! Let me tell you, it's unbelievable!! You're non-vegan friends will have NO idea that it has NO cheese in it or that they are eating handfuls of spinach! Score!
Why add two cups of spinach to pesto?
First off, it adds a bunch of healthy raw spinach into your day! Whoo!
Second, the spinach thins out the pesto a bit, allowing it to spread more easily to coat pasta, grilled sandwiches, roasted veggies etc.! No need to add extra oil or water! Just add spinach!
Third, spinach is a great way to make pesto on a budget - you still get flavor from the basil, but you don't have to buy as much basil.
This spinach vegan pesto will keep for at least 3 days in a refrigerator in an airtight container.
How to use leftover vegan pesto:
Can you freeze pesto?
Yes, you can freeze pesto!
Make a double batch of pesto (or more) and freeze. Use within 6 months.
To freeze pesto, I recommend freezing in individual servings so you can grab as much as you need and quickly thaw it out. To do so, spoon pesto into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer storage bag.
Other vegan sauce and pasta recipes you will love:
- Vegan mushroom stroganoff
- Easy vegan manicotti
- Tofu-ricotta stuffed shells
- Vegan pizza sauce
- REAL Vegan mozzarella cheese
- Vegan smoked Gouda cheese
- Vegan baked feta pasta
If you’ve tried this Perfect Vegan Pesto recipe or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I LOVE hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food!!!
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Perfect Vegan Pesto
- In a food processor or blender, grind up the cashews into a coarse meal.
- Now add remaining ingredients and process until mostly smooth. Taste and add salt, if needed. A little coarse nuttiness is ok.
- Total recipe yield: Approximately 1.5 cups
- You can freeze leftover pesto or double the batch to freeze some for later: To freeze individual servings, spoon into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. Use within 5 months
- This pesto will keep for at least 3 days in a refrigerator in an airtight container.