Why do we want to make vegan pesto sauce? Well, primarily because pesto is not traditionally vegan. It is historically vegetarian. So from this brief introduction you might have figured out what the ingredients in pesto sauce are that aren’t vegan.
No, it’s not eggs. And I don’t imagine that you would have thought that either. No, traditionally, pesto sauce is made with 2 types of cheese. Those 2 cheeses are Parmesan and fiore sardo. Both of these cheeses are firm and distinctive in flavour.
Pesto just as an aside originated in Italy, more specifically the seaside town of Genoa in North Western Italy.
Pesto is simple enough, as most great cooking is. It consists of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and the 2 cheeses mentioned above. Historically and traditionally it is made by crushing the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle.
The words pesto actually is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pesta or the Italian pestare which means to pound or crush.
Okay, so now knowing what pesto is traditionally and what the ingredients are let’s figure out how to make vegan pesto.
I have 3 ways to make vegan pesto. Just one recipe but you can change out the cheeses depending on preference for your own taste. Try them all.
Nutritional yeast and vegan Parmesan cheese as a more authentic flavour. Daiya cheese adds a smoother flavour.
Vegano pesto sauce
1.5 cups fresh basil leaves not stems
0.33 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup European pine nuts
5 or 6 cloves garlic
0.33 cups nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese or Daiya cheese
0.33 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
In a food processor or blender chuck all the ingredients in and blend until the pine nuts are ground.
You don’t want a smooth paste as pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle as mentioned and as such retains some texture.
I like it with a macaroni pasta called cavatappi or by its colloquial name double elbows or corkscrew pasta.