Vegan Basil and Walnut Pesto with Nutritional Yeast to Make it Vegan
Basil is abundant at this time of year. My garden beds are bursting at the seams with this gorgeous fragrant herb, so I made a big batch of classic vegan walnut pesto to take to a meet the new neighbor party that my friend hosted a few nights ago.
Nothing is better than fresh picked basil that goes from garden to bowl. The flavor and the aroma is incomparable. Just look at the dark green color of this delicious pesto dip made with walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts.
My friends have gone from skeptical to excited when they see that I've brought vegan food to our neighborhood get togethers. As soon as they saw the vegan cheese and pesto platter that I brought to our latest party they started digging in, and the compliments started flowing.
One of the things that I love about pesto is that there are so many ways to make it. That's why there are three more pesto recipes on this blog. We have an oil free version, a mint pesto version, and a spicy version. Click the links if you want to check them out.
This classic pesto with walnuts and nutritional yeast is one of my favorites because it’s thick and perfect for dipping and spreading on crackers or sandwiches. You could make it thinner and use it for a sauce for pasta; it’s an all-purpose dip. For the party I paired it with several different types of crackers.
How to Make Vegan Pesto with Walnuts and Basil
To make this easy basil and walnut pesto you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Fresh Basil
- Nutritional Yeast
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and whip it up until it’s thick and smooth. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.
Notes on the Garlic: To tame the sharp bitter taste of raw garlic you can blanch it in boiling water for two minutes. Just throw the peeled garlic in a pot of boiling water and turn off the heat. Let it sit for two minutes and then remove it with a slotted spoon and transfer it to the food processor.
Notes on the Walnuts: I used raw walnuts in place of the traditional pine nuts because I like the earthy flavor of the walnuts, and they’re less expensive. Make sure you toast the walnuts to get their full flavor.
Notes on the Pesto: The walnuts make a more textured pesto, which I really like for a dip. You can add more oil and make it creamier if you like. The nutritional yeast adds the cheese flavor that you’d get from the parmesan that’s added to conventional pesto. Don’t skip it because it’s an important part of this recipe.
If you're reading this today, Happy Fourth of July!
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Classic Vegan Walnut Pesto
- 1 food processor
- 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and blanched
- 3 packed cups of basil leaves
- ⅓ cup of raw walnuts – toasted
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of ground sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Toast the walnuts in a 375°F oven for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until they’re lightly browned. Shake the pan every minute or so and watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Let them cool for 5 minutes.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop the garlic cloves in the water and turn off the heat. Let them sit for two minutes. Transfer the garlic to the food processor with a slotted spoon.
- Put the basil leaves, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and three tablespoons of olive oil in the food processor bowl and pulse until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add more oil if you like your pesto thinner.
- Spread on crackers or toast or toss with pasta.
- Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to a month.