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.