Summer isn’t summer without fresh pesto sauce. The smell of fresh basil permeates my farmer’s market from July through September. Traditional pesto requires Parmesan cheese, so I stopped making it when my family became dairy-free. When good vegan cheese substitutes appeared in my local organic market, I put pesto back on the menu.
I grow basil in pots on my front porch, but it can be a chore to grow enough basil for pesto. You need to replant the basil all summer because it starts to taste like licorice when it’s been growing too long. In the farmer’s market, I give basil a good sniff before purchasing. Most farmers sow basil continuously throughout the season to keep their fresh basil smelling and tasting fantastic.
Parmesan cheese gives pesto its bite. Because vegan cheese can be on the bland side, I add nutritional yeast for more flavor. Purists may notice the difference, but my family gobbles up this pesto when tossed with pasta.
If you find yourself with armloads of fresh basil, make extra and freeze it for up to three months. Late-summer pesto offers a treasured reminder of summer when the temperature starts falling. Pesto is great on pasta, but it also makes a delicious sandwich spread or as a sauce for meat or vegetables.
Vegan Basil Pesto Sauce
Vegan cheese and nutritional yeast substitute for Parmesan cheese in this fresh summer basil pesto.
- 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
Toss with cooked pasta, and serve immediately garnished with fresh basil.
Store any extra pesto in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.
Pesto can be frozen in a sealed container for up to three months.
Three cups of fresh basil will blend into less than two cups of pesto sauce. Thai and Italian basil work well together in pesto.
Making pesto is simple. Gather the ingredients, then blend them in a food processor or blender.
In less than a minute of processing, you’ve got pesto!
Toss the pesto with cooked pasta, and you’ve got dinner!
Pesto’s great with hot or cold dishes. Cold pasta with pesto makes a delicious lunch.