Nut-Free Pesto

While I use a lot of dried basil, I only know of two uses for fresh basil. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but I’ve only used it to make caprese salad and pesto. I love pesto. I wish I had the space and money to grow more basil plants (I have three), just so I could make more pesto. Pesto looks like it would be difficult and time-consuming to make, but it only requires a handful of ingredients and a blender.

Pesto without pine nuts

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce made from ground basil and other ingredients. Aside from basil and olive oil, pesto traditionally has pine nuts. Me, I don’t even know what pine nuts look like. Since I am a big believer in adjusting a recipe to suit your needs, I make a nut-free pesto instead.

How much olive oil you wind up using is going to depend on what exactly you plan on doing with your pesto. Use less oil to make a spread to put on your bread. Use more to create a more sauce-like texture to use with pasta.

Nut-Free Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
  • 1 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Add basil to food processor and pulse 3-4 times to chop leaves. Add garlic and pulse again 2-3 times.
  2. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency is found. Periodically stop to scrape sides with a spatula.
  3. Add Pamesan, salt, and pepper and pulse again to combine.

Feel free to use freshly shredded Parmesan, or even substitute any other hard cheese. Also, try other flavors as well. The wikipedia entry for pesto mentions a “red pesto” which uses less basil and adds pureed tomato to make it somewhere in between a traditional pesto and a marinara. (Of course, a marina is also cooked and pesto isn’t).

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