Have you been growing basil this summer? It’s our #1 favorite herb to grow and use in the summer, from caprese salads to pasta to popsicles. As the weather starts to grow cooler, not only do I mourn the loss of summer, I grieve our basil plant going end of life. The one saving grace–pesto.
Each year to use the last of our basil plants, we make huge batches of pesto. It’s a perfect way to preserve the taste of summer for the cooler months ahead, to use on pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and dips. Since we have a great classic pesto recipe, this year we tried a vegan pesto for dairy-free and vegan / plant-based diet. Another plus: it’s a less expensive option than using the traditional Parmesan cheese. What it does use is one non-traditional ingredient: nutritional yeast— yellow flakes of inactive yeast that provides an instant cheesy, savory flavor to vegetarian and vegan dishes. It’s a bit niche, but we buy it online and have it onhand mainly to sprinkle on popcorn (!). We tried it here and loved the result; it tastes very similar to typical pesto. Spread on toast with some end of summer tomatoes, it’s delightful.
Why to make it: To use up your end of season basil; a delicious sauce for pasta, pizza, sandwiches
When to make it: Summer
Caveats: Gotta find nutritional yeast, but it’s worth the purchase to have on hand
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Peel 3 garlic cloves. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Add 2 cups basil leaves, ⅓ cup walnuts, ⅓ cup nutritional yeast, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pulse 5-6 times until the ingredients are chopped finely but not mushy.
- Turn on the food processor and add ½ cup olive oil in a steady stream, then 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Taste, and add additional salt or pepper as desired.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.