This Homemade Basil Pesto is my go-to sauce and dressing. It is cheesy and flavorful despite being dairy-free. It is also a great alternative for lower oil/fat, vegan-friendly, paleo and whole 30 compliant. It’s the perfect plant-based sauce for Italian dishes and more!
This is Pesto-bly the easiest sauce to make. For this pesto recipe, all you need is basil, garlic, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, and nutritional yeast. With just a few simple ingredients, this homemade vegan basil pesto is so much healthier than the store-bought version. That’s why I love making my own healthy versions of sauces and dips.
Health Benefits of Basil Pesto
First of all, you may already know that basil has the best smell. Seriously I can sniff it all day. Secondly, it is often known to be the main spice in Italian and Thai Cuisines, such as this pasta with pesto.
In addition, basil has a lot more benefits to offer:
- Contains Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
- Fights Cancer
- Combats Stress and Depression
- Supports Liver Function
- Improves Digestions
Read more about the benefits about basil here.
Healthy Alternatives in this Pesto recipe
The traditional basil pesto calls for pine nuts. I originally came to testing this basil pesto recipe without nuts because I have a couple friends who have nuts allergies. It is so good with pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts. I will tell you a trick to make it as creamy as the texture using pine nuts.
Toasted Pine Nuts for the best Pesto
Just to take the flavor up a notch, I toasted the pine nuts.
Nut-Free: Pumpkin Seeds
This is one of my favorite substitute! Although you may argue that pumpkin seeds are not as fatty as pine nuts, and the pesto won’t turn out as creamy. Here is the secret!
I soak 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds in warm water and a pinch of salt overnight. Not only it makes the pesto so creamy, but it is also better for digestion. I talked more about the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds in this post.
Different Greens of Choice:
In addition to Basil, I also love mixing other greens like cilantro, spinach or kale. Cilantro has a very distinct taste, so it’s not for everyone. BUT it does have lots of health benefits.
- Helps Remove Harmful Heavy metals
- Great for digestive system
- Supports heart Health
- Ease anxiety
- Rich in vitamin A
(Read more here )
Dairy Free Pesto
For that cheesy color and flavor, I use nutritional yeast, which is a man-made yeast that’s extremely high in B12 (a vitamin especially important for vegans).
I love adding nutritional yeast to make my vegan “cheese” sauce, on top of a salad, and more, to give these dishes a salty and cheesy flavor.
My Favorite Way to Enjoy this Vegan Pesto
Pasta and Pesto are like the best combo on earth. Oh Gee aren’t Italians just brilliant?
Although the traditional basil pesto or pasta dish is considered fatty, filled with carbs, and often makes us feel bloated, I have discovered a couple of Gluten-Free Pasta options that are great healthy alternatives.
There are a couple gluten free pasta I love:
These are great gluten free and vegan pasta options. Although they are not paleo or whole 30 compliant since they are made with legumes.
Last but not least, this Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo Friendly basil pesto is super easy to make. Just pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy. Viola! It is cheesy, nutty and delicious!
OOO ALSO I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOUR CREATIONS! YOU CAN USE “TRIED IT” ON PINTEREST OR SHARE ON INSTAGRAM BY TAGGING #SHUANGYSEATS
- 2 cup basil
- 1 cup spinach or cilantro
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (Nut free alternative: pumpkin seeds)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 tsp salt, pepper (to taste)
- Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor
- Scrape the wall of the food processor a few times to make sure all the ingredients are well blended
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days
- Make your favorite pasta dish to go with this healthy pesto and enjoy!
- You can substitute pine nuts with walnuts for a fattier and creamier taste or pumpkin seeds for nut allergy.
- If you don't like the taste of cilantro, you can substitute it with kale or spinach or just simply omit it
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This does not result in any extra cost for you, but it does mean that I make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 493mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g
The Nutrition Facts above are specific to the ingredients I chose to use for this recipe, which may vary.