Pesto is a staple in Italian cuisine. The word stems from the Italian word “Pestare” which means to crush or to pound. Traditionally, pesto is made by mixing fresh basil, pine nuts, oil, garlic, and vegan cheese. However, it’s easy enough to make your own plant-based version at home by swapping out the cheese and adding in some other healthy ingredients. You can even switch the whole thing up! Let’s break it down step by step and get you whipping up your own tasty plant-based version.2 cups “greens”Don’t have basil on hand? That’s fine, toss in some other greens! Mix it up. Some delicious options include kale, arugula, parsley, or beet greens. You can even do half and half. 1/2 cup “nuts/seeds”No pine nuts? No problem! Switch the nuts or use seeds - pretty much any nut/seed will work in pesto, even though pine nuts are the traditional nut of choice. Some great options are cashews, walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds. 2-4 tablespoons “cheese”Add in some “cheesiness” without using cheese! For a cheesy flavor, you can rely on nutritional yeast. If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, try using cashews as your nut base which can double as a cheese flavor.1/4 cup liquid Use your liquid of choice - Are you an olive oil lover, or do you prefer a different oil such as avocado, or flax? If you’re concerned about fat, simply use water. You can also do a half and half option here. If the pesto turns out too thick simply add more liquid to help thin it out. 1-3 garlic cloves Garlic can be overpowering so if you’re sensitive to it, just use one clove. Roasting your garlic first can also help take the “bite” out of the garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, go nuts!2 tablespoons lemon juiceLemon is optional and not a traditional component of pesto, however, it can help liven up the pesto, and the vitamin C can help absorb the iron from the greens. Salt & PepperAdding some ancient salt is a great flavor-saver especially if the pesto turns out to be too bitter. Use a little dash of pepper if you want to add some spice.Other delicious add-ins: Some other great flavor enhancers are capers, sun-dried tomatoes, or even miso. These can help add in some saltiness or give the pesto more of a savory flavor. Pesto can be used on so many foods, such as a sauce on pizzas, pasta, wraps, or salads. Or as a garnish on soups, bread, or grilled veggies. Pesto Base:1/2 cup nuts/seeds1/4 cup liquid2 cups greens2-3 garlic cloves2 tablespoon lemon or AVC1/2 c nuts/seeds3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
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