Classic Basil Pesto

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Pesto, a beloved Italian sauce, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Its origins can be traced to the Ligurian region of Italy, specifically Genoa, where it is a traditional and iconic culinary creation. The word "pesto" itself is derived from the Italian word "pestare," which means "to pound" or "to crush," highlighting the traditional method of preparation.

Pesto is an incredibly versatile sauce that can easily be adapted to a plant-based or vegan diet without sacrificing its vibrant flavors. Traditionally, pesto contains ingredients like basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and Pecorino cheeses. To create a plant-based pesto, we can make a few simple substitutions while maintaining the essence of this delicious sauce.

Plant-Based Pesto Benefits:

  • Nutrient-Rich Alternative: Nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, provide healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients.
  • Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a plant-based substitute for Parmesan cheese, imparting a cheesy and savory flavor. It's also a good source of B vitamins.
  • Heart-Healthy Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil contributes heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, adding richness to the pesto.
  • Basil as a Key Ingredient: The primary ingredient in pesto is fresh basil. Basil is more than just a fragrant herb used in various cuisines around the world. It has a range of health benefits, thanks to its nutritional profile and the presence of compounds with potential medicinal properties. It’s a good source of essential nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, manganese, and iron. It also contains antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols. 
  • Versatility: Plant-based pesto is incredibly versatile and can be customized based on personal preferences. Try experimenting with different nuts or herbs for unique variations.
  • Suitable for Various Diets: This plant-based pesto is suitable for vegan, vegetarian, and plant-forward diets. It allows those following a plant-based lifestyle to enjoy the classic flavors of pesto without animal products.


Classic Basil Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (2 Tablespoons [30 ml] per serving)
Category: Condiments, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian


  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons (16 g) of pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds)
  • 3 garlic cloves (9 g), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (32 g) of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (8 g) of flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) of nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


                            1. Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of the olive oil to a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and chopped garlic into the skillet and gently toast until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
                            2. Place the toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, and the remaining olive oil into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
                            3. Refrigerate the pesto in a sealed container for up to 4 days.

                                                                                                Nutrition: (Estimated and based on per-serving amounts.)

                                                                                                • Calories: 160
                                                                                                • Fat: 17 g
                                                                                                • Total Carbs: 2 g
                                                                                                • Fiber: 0 g
                                                                                                • Sugar: 0 g
                                                                                                • Net Carbs: 2 g
                                                                                                • Protein: 1 g

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