If you’re used to buying store-bought pesto, I promise homemade is very easy and fast to make – ready in just 5 minutes – you have a fresh batch of nut-free, vegan basil pesto using the ingredients you love most.
Ths homemade batch of bail pesto is PERFECT for a creamy pesto gnocchi.
I like to be in control of what goes into my food, so making it at home is the best way to do that. In this case, we’re going nut-free, dairy-free, plant-based, and boosting up the garlic.
Similar to sofrito, basil pesto is a blend of aromatics and fresh herbs turned into a paste. Pesto is usually made with nuts, including walnuts, cashews, and almonds. But most often with pine nuts.
- Although pine nuts are the go-to for traditional basil pesto, I opted for toasted sunflower seeds instead. I wanted to use what I had in abundance in my pantry – which happened to be raw sunflower seeds. The sunflower seeds were dry roasted on a skillet for a couple of minutes until golden and fragrant.
- I used a blender. However, other kitchen tools that can be used to grind up pesto include a mortar and pestle and a food processor. I have a blender, so that’s what I will be using. Be sure to scrape the sides and push down the ingredients in between blends (make sure the blender is not actively blending while doing this).
What Can I Use Instead Of Nuts In Pesto?
To keep this recipe nut-free, I opted to use toasted sunflower seeds. Other nut-free substitutes for pesto include hemp seed.
Fun fact: pine nuts are the edible seeds of pines. So technically, they are not nuts and can be used in a nut-free pesto recipe.
Can I Eat Pesto If Allergic To Nuts?
Plenty of pesto recipes are made nut-free. Just be sure to double-check their ingredients list.
If you’re allergic to pine nuts, go for a pesto that uses another nut or seed, or omits both seeds and nuts altogether.
What To Eat With Pesto?
I love using pesto as a healthy, full-bodied spread in sandwiches or veggie wraps/burritos. However here are a few other ideas:
- Toss the sauce with pasta
- Use it as a sauce for homemade pizza
- Spread over roasted cauliflower steaks
- Make a pesto rice
- Add it to a bowl of comforting soup
- Toss it with roasted vegetables
How To Freeze & Store?
This recipe makes about 8 ounces worth of pesto. I like to use two, 4-ounce canning jars to store.
They can keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for several months.
The pesto can turn brown or dark from exposure to oxygen – this is normal.
However, to prevent the basil pesto from turning brown/dark on top, fill a 4-ounce canning jar with the pesto to nearly to the top. Then, pour a bit of olive oil, enough to cover.
The olive oil will act as a seal to prevent oxidation.
Nut-Free Vegan Basil Pesto
- 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds no shell
- 2.5 cups fresh basil packed or 2.5 ounces
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or store in the freezer.
- To freeze, pour the pesto into a mason jar and add a bit of olive oil on top to act as a seal to prevent oxidation. Then, close with a lid.
- I blend my pesto on a low “liquid” setting on my blender.
- If you want a boost of umami or “cheesiness” in this pesto recipe, add 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
Did you try out this Nut-Free Vegan Basil Pesto recipe?