Vegan Pesto made in a Mortar and Pestle

I realised that I had never actually featured any pesto recipe here before. With my nut allergy, I don’t actually make pesto that often. But I was inspired to make a nut-free version when I got this mortar and pestle as a Kris Kindle (Secret Santa) gift for Christmas in the office. What a thoughtful gift!

vegan pesto

Did you know that pesto infact originates from the use of a pestle to make it? (It’s from the Genoese word Pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle).

While it does sound like it involves a bit of work to grind pesto in this way, it actually is very agreeable. The fragrances that are released during grinding are really exquisite and the result is a much tastier pesto despite the fact that this one was a nut-free version.

This is also garlic free but feel free to add it in if you like.

Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

Ingredients (yields only about 2 tablespoons of pesto)

25g, washed, fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste

vegan pesto, basil

  • Grind basil leaves in mortar and pestle (or blender).

vegan pesto

  • Add the nutritional yeast and salt (be careful with these two as nutritional yeast is already quite salty).

vegan pesto

  • Add lemon juice.
  • Lastly add enough olive oil to keep it moist and spreadable.
  • Cover and store chilled for at least an hour.
  • Pour a thin layer of extra olive oil, if you like, over the top to help keep it bright green.

vegan pesto

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  • Theresa
    January 10, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Ooh, our basil is growing really well at the moment and I should totally make pesto. Thanks for the idea!

  • Mihl
    January 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I used to make pesto in my mortar and pestle. Then I thought using a food processor or immersion blender was easier. But it really isn’t.

  • Jessica
    March 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Where can you buy nutritional yeast in Mauritius?


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