Our garden, and next door’s garden (which we are looking after), both have an abundance of basil at present. Basil is my favourite herb and basil pesto is my favourite sauce / spread / condiment. Traditionally (or at least commercially and the way I first learned to make it) pesto contains basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese (and pepper). This is a vegan and garlic free take on the recipe but you could easily substitute the salt and nutritional yeast for grated Parmesan and you could add garlic to your hearts desire. This recipe will last a while in the fridge (though it doesn’t last long enough here to test out how long), and also freezes well (for several months). It is excellent as a pizza base sauce, on pasta or zucchini noodles as well as a spread.

I made some pesto last week garlic free due to a friend’s intolerance and found that I actually preferred it this way. I brought the left overs to a family dinner and it was well received….so well that the recipe was requested…..uh oh….I had not written it down as I hastily made it last time….so writing this has involved making another batch so I could get the “exact” quantities down as I went……It’s going to be so hard getting through the results of that adventure (not 🙂 ).

RECIPE (yields about 2 cups)

  • 4 cups tightly packed basil (just the leaves and flowers – discard tough stems)
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts (I just toast mine by microwaving for a minute or 2)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1 lemon (or about 4 tablespoons of lemon juice – to taste)
  • salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • course ground black pepper (optional / to taste – about 1 teaspoon)
  • 60 millilitres extra virgin olive oil


  • Put basil in food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
  • Add nutritional yeast,  and blitz until incorporated.
  • Add pine nuts and blitz to a paste.
  • Add pepper / salt, and lemon juice, and blitz until paste is smooth.
  • With motor running on food processor, pour in the olive oil until homogenised into mix.
  • Scrape into jar (if storing in fridge or using soon), or into small plastic containers / ice cube trays (if freezing).

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