Basil Pesto

Fresh Basil and Pine Nut Deliciousness fit for royalty...and your household.
Course Lunch, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean, Vegan, WFPB
Keyword Basil, Easy, Fresh, Oil-free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author PBNM
Cost $12-$15 Total


  • Blender or food processor
  • Measuring cups and spoons


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
    large stems removed
  • 3 Tbs pine nuts or walnuts see notes if avoiding oil or nuts
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice fresh squeezed
  • 3-4 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp sea salt, or pink salt more or less, to taste
  • 3-6 Tbs water
  • ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


  • To a food processor or small blender, add the basil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and sea salt and 4Tbs water.
  • Scraping down the sides of the blender jar as needed, blend on high until a loose paste forms.
  • Then add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water at a time until the desired consistency is reached - a thick but pourable sauce.
  • Serve over parboiled zucchini noodles or other pasta.
  • Garnish with

    *chopped pine nuts

    *crushed red pepper flakes (the chili piquin variety

    peppers for this because of their smokey, roasted flavor)

    * finely chopped fresh spinach leaves

    * fresh parsley sprig
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


One of the most important things to know about Basil Pesto is NEVER cook it.  It will turn dark and have an unpleasant taste if heated so it is most captivating raw. To have it as a hot dish,  prepare it just before serving. Let is stay at room temperature and serve it on top of the thoroughly heated noodles. That way you avoid the unpleasantries. You also preserve  the crunch of any unchopped pine nuts and the essential nature of the fresh basil.
If you are nut, seed, or oil-free, try cannelini beans instead of the pine nuts, or if you can use seeds, try sunflower seeds. The taste will definitely be different. Test and adjust the flavor as needed, gradually adding more water to reduce stickiness, nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt for overall flavor, garlic for bite/zing, or lemon juice for acidity.