Vegan pesto is our go-to recipe for when we need a quick sauce for salads, soup or pasta. Vegan pesto follows the authentic Italian recipe but replaces the parmesan with a dairy-free alternative: nutritional yeast.
What is pesto
Pesto, or sometimes called pesto alla Genovese, is a green sauce that originated in Genoa, the beautiful capital city of Liguria. The main ingredients for an authentic pesto consist of pine nuts, crushed garlic, basil leaves, sea salt and parmesan, all blended with delicious extra virgin olive oil. As you can tell most of the ingredients are already vegan, so all we need to do is replace the parmesan with nutritional yeast so we can create an amazing version of vegan pesto.
It still tastes just like authentic Italian pesto and it can be used exactly the same way.
Ever wondered where the name pesto comes from? It's from the Italian word "pestare" which means to crush or to pound. You see, traditionally, pesto is ground in a marble mortar with a pestle.
So basically when we refer to "pesto" we talk about the term of pounding and not the sauce itself. the correct term would be Pesto alla Genovese or Genoese pesto.
Traditionally, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. So for the sake of authenticity, I'm going to tell you how to make pesto the old and the modern way.
Pesto is common used on pasta but you will also find it with potatoes and string beans. It can be used in soups as well, especially in Genovese minestrone. As you know, pesto has many uses outside of Italy as everyone loves to eat it with cured meats, cheeses, pizza and even on bread.
There are many non-traditional variations of pesto as well, some of which use a variety of nuts instead of pine nuts and use sundried tomatoes instead of (or alongside) basil leaves.
How to make vegan pesto: Traditional Way
Place the garlic and pine nuts in the mortar and crush them together until they are reduced to a cream. Add the basil leaves and salt and continue crushing until everything is creamy. Add the nutritional yeast and extra virgin olive oil. Mix well.
You can place the pesto in an airtight container and add a small layer of olive oil. This way it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
How to make vegan pesto: Modern Way
This recipe requires just 5 minutes to make. Add pine nuts, basil leaves, sea salt, lemon juice and nutritional yeast to a food processor or blender. Blend until everything is well mixed into a paste. Now add the olive oil and mix again, scraping the sides of the processor from time to time.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add more lemon juice if you want it tangier. Add more nutritional yeast to make it cheesier. Add more pine nuts to make it thicker in consistency and more olive oil to thin the pesto.
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.