This is a pesto adjacent, totally adjustable, absolutely delicious sauce that will make anyone you prepare it for tell you that they love you. Perfect over white beans, drizzled on top of roasted chicken, or sneaking a heaping spoonful in your pantry before dinner. Honestly, I could eat this on anything. All day, every day.
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Traditional pesto (Pesto Genovese) is made by grinding pine nuts, parmesan and basil in a mortar and pestle. The result is a thick, flavor-packed paste used on scratch-made pasta. While delicious, traditional pesto isn’t best for everyone, especially for those with certain dietary restrictions.
This Dairy-Free pesto is a thinner version than traditional. In addition to being welcoming to those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, it yields a more versatile sauce as well. Dairy-free pesto is more saucey than it’s traditional counterpart, making it the perfect addition to a multitude of foods.
Since this pesto has a consistency between olive oil and traditional pesto, you can use it as a sauce, marinade or dressing. The options for use are truly endless and it’s a great item to have on hand in the fridge for quick, tasty meals. See recipe ideas below for a full list of how to use this delicious dairy-free pesto!
Dairy-Free Pesto Substitutions
Try using different greens and nuts to make this easy and delicious dairy-free pesto. Find the combination that you like best! To make this dairy-free pesto zero waste friendly, add in some (washed) carrot tops as part of your greens. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Spinach and Almond
Spinach is easily accessible for most people, typically found in bulk bags in the produce section. Typically mild in flavor, spinach is a great starting point to try this tasty pesto.
Almonds are equally available, and common in among dairy substitutes (almond cheese, anyone?). A dynamic duo, this pesto alternative would make a delicious dressing for any salad.
Arugula and Pine Nut
Arugula provides a stronger, more peppery bite to the pesto than spinach. It’s a great choice if you are looking for a pesto that packs a punch. Additionally, arugula is typically affordable, in the same price range as spinach, and usually widely available throughout grocery stores.
Pine nuts, however, are a bit less affordable. At prices nearing $34 a pound, it can be jarring (and intimidating) to try to buy pine nuts to incorporate into your cooking. Pine nuts have a delectable butter flavor, and a light oil that’s released when roasted. They really are worth it. And thankfully, there are more affordable options out there.
For example, Target sells many nuts in smaller quantities. This way, you can incorporate some pine nuts into your cooking (and make this recipe!) without blowing your grocery budget.
Chard and Walnut
Perhaps a more unusual pairing, chard and walnut make as delicious a pesto as any other dynamic duo. Either Swiss chard or rainbow chard would work well. Make sure to wash thoroughly and destem before making this pesto for the best color and flavor.
Walnuts are flavor and nutrient packed. Because they are high in fat content, they are more prone to becoming rancid if stored at room temperature. While not unsafe to consume, rancid walnuts have an unpleasant taste. Store walnuts (and other nuts) in the freezer to safely preserve and prolong their shelf life.
Dairy-Free Pesto Serving Ideas
This green sauce is versatile and can be used in so many ways throughout the kitchen. It makes a great base for a salad dressing or veggie marinade. Here are some more serving ideas:
Use this delicious green sauce as a base for fried eggs, or as a spread for sandwiches (pesto grilled cheese?!)
How to Make Dairy-Free Pesto
This Dairy-free pesto is simple and easy to make, coming together in about 10 minutes.
To make this dairy-free pesto, follow these simple steps:
- Wash your greens and pat dry. Washing your greens is an important step, whether you get them from the supermarket or from the farmer’s market. Be sure to destem greens like chard before use.
- Add all ingredients into a food process, and half of the olive oil. Reserve half of the olive oil for later, as it helps the pesto come together better this way
- While the blender or food processor is running, slowly pour in the rest of the olive oil. If you don’t have the type of food processor that allows you to add ingredients while it is running, simply pulse the ingredients for a few seconds, add some of the olive oil, pulse for a few more, etc. until all of the olive oil is incorporated
- Taste and season. This all depends on your taste preferences. Starting with a pinch of salt is great, and add as needed. Bear in mind that the flavor of the pesto will develop as it sits in the fridge over time, so it’s best to be more conservative at the start.
- Use your spatula to collect the sauce from the sides of the food processor and blend again. This will help to ensure everything is incorporated.
Most importantly, have fun and experiment! The best way to find what you like is by trying new things.
- 1 Blender or Food Processer
- 1 Measuring Cup
- 1 Measuring Spoons
- 1 Silicone Spatula
- 2 Cups Spinach Alternate with whatever greens you have! Chard would be great, but kale could run bitter. Think light power greens!
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Roasted Cashews Use any nut of your choice!
- 1/2 Lemon Juiced
- 1 Tbsp Garlic Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Thyme Dried or fresh
- 1 Tbsp Oregano Dried or fresh
- 1 Tsp Rosemary Dried or fresh
- 2 Tsp White Wine Vinegar
- Wash your greens and pat dry.
- In a blender or a food processer, add every ingredient, and half of the total olive oil.
- While the blender or food processer is running, slowly pour in the rest of the olive oil until you see the sauce become smooth. This should have the visual of heavy cream. Thicker than olive oil, but not as thick as pesto. Add more oil if needed.
- Taste, and season accordingly.
- Use your spatula to collect the sauce from the sides, and blend again.
- Don't be afraid to experiment! The wonderful thing about this recipe, is that it is delicious with adjustments. Spice with what you have, use hazelnuts instead of cashews. Have fun, and eat happy.