Easy, delicious, flavorful and so easy to whip together, this dairy free and vegan pesto recipe is the perfect addition to any meal. Serve it with some grilled chicken, pasta, in a sandwich or just as a simple spread on toast.
You know those days when you don’t really feel like eating vegetables or salad but know you probably should? Or when you’re feeling ultra lazy and don’t want to spend much time cooking? I always reach for my avocado chickpea salad in those cases.
Well, I’ve been having a lot of those days recently so I decided I needed to share a recipe on here for when other people feel the same way!
This mushroom broccoli rigatoni is also great for those lazy nights, but this dairy free vegan pesto recipe with some pasta has been my favorite as of late.
This pesto is protein packed, loaded with healthy fats, and only takes 20 minutes from start to finish. Serve it up with some pasta and grilled chicken for a simple weeknight meal! Be sure to try my pesto hummus or red pepper sauce next!
PINE NUTS. Most pesto sauces have some sort of nut as the base. Pine nuts are the most common because of their mild and neutral flavor, but almonds, cashews and walnuts can also be used!
BASIL. The star of the show! Basil is really what makes pesto, pesto. It adds a lot of flavor and you really can’t make pesto without basil.
LEMON. Fresh lemon juice will help balance out all of the other flavors in the sauce.
GARLIC. Another key ingredient for flavor!
PARMESAN. Traditional pesto uses regular parmesan, but this vegan versions uses my cashew parmesan to keep it dairy free.
OLIVE OIL. This is key to help the sauce blend up!
How to make vegan pesto
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces/dips to make because it is so easy and packed with flavor. I generally serve it warm, but this pesto can also make a great sauce for a pasta salad or sandwich, too!
Add the kale and garlic to a food processor and pulse a few times so they get broken up and you don’t end up with large chunks in the final sauce.
Add all of the remaining ingredients for the pesto to the food processor and process until smooth or leave a few larger chunks if desired.
Taste and add extra basil, salt, lemon, or cashew parmesan if desired. Set in the fridge to chill or toss with cooked pasta of choice and serve warm!
Is pesto vegan?
Most pesto sauces contain parmesan cheese, so they aren’t vegan friendly, but I opted to use cashew parmesan in this recipe so it is dairy free and can be enjoyed by all types of eaters!
What does pesto taste like?
The main ingredient in pesto is basil, so pesto tastes a lot like basil! With a garlicky and slight cheesy and nutty flavor, it’s a very savory and delicious sauce.
Do you serve it hot or cold?
Either! You do not need to heat the pesto sauce up before serving. You can use it cold in sandwich or as a dip (with my vegan summer rolls!), or warm it up for pasta!
MEAT. I love chicken or white fish with pesto, but even salmon is delicious. I love a good chicken pesto pasta. Three of my favorite foods in one!
PASTA. Pesto pasta is of course such a classic dish. Rotini is often uses for pesto pasta dishes, but penne or even spaghetti are also delicious.
VEGGIES. Pesto makes a great dip for your favorite veggies, either raw or roasted!
SANDWICHES. I love using this vegan pesto to spread on sandwiches for lots of flavor.
You can make a double batch of the pesto and keep the leftover sauce for sandwiches, dips, or for chicken and buddha bowls throughout the week!
If stored on its own (not with pasta or anything), the pesto sauce will keep in the fridge for a full week. It may discolor slightly, but the lemon should prevent this from happening too much!
You can use arugula in place of the kale if you prefer, though this will alter the taste slightly, but it is still delicious. You can also just leave it out entirely.
Try these next!
Lastly, if you want more recipes straight to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to my email list. As always, tag me on instagram if you make this recipe so I can see your creation!
Easy Vegan Pesto
by: claire cary
- 2 cups fresh basil packed
- 2-4 large kale leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 2-3 large cloves garlic
- Juice from 1 large lemon
- ⅓ cup cashew parmesan click for recipe
- 1/2-1 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Add the kale (stems removed) and garlic to a food processor and pulse until broken up into fine pieces.
- Add all remaining ingredients and process until smooth, or leave a few chunks if desired.
- Taste and add more basil, lemon, or salt if desired.
- Transfer to the fridge to chill, or toss with pasta if enjoying immediately!
Andronius Caronius says
Such taste, very basil, much yum
I can’t have fresh garlic, and I miss having pesto. Would you recommend substituting with garlic powder? I would love to try this recipe!
Claire Cary says
Garlic powder should work! The flavor will be a bit different, but I’d start with 1/2 teaspoon and go from there!
This pesto is SO good and surprisingly good cold! I love the addition of the kale. Will make again ASAP!
Claire Cary says
Thanks Sophia! I love it cold too 🙂
This is so Good. The pesto is so smooth. It was off the counter in 1 hour.
Claire, thanks for sharing your amazing recipes! I love your cashew parmesan recipe. For those you can’t have peas though (allergies) what would you replace the green peas with to keep the same nice texture in your pesto?
Claire Cary says
Hey Pauline! Thank you! So this is a pea pesto, so it will be hard to keep the texture without them, but I do have a pea free pesto sauce which you can find here. Hope you enjoy!