Vegan Pesto All Year Long

I love the smell of fresh basil, and the best thing to make when you have a lot of fresh basil is… fresh pesto! It’s great on pasta and flat bread pizza, as well as stirred into lightly stir-fried veggies. It’s also awesome in minestrone soup, which I’ll share in my next post. For now, I’ll share my vegan pesto recipe, and how I make it last so that I can enjoy it any time of the year.

Vegan Pesto (also Gluten-Free)... and Tips on How to Freeze it

The trick to good pesto is to use high-quality, fresh ingredients. Fresh basil is obviously key, but you should also use the best olive oil that you can afford. Extra-virgin olive oil that has been cold-pressed is your best choice. I’m using one that I picked up during my last visit to the Hunter Valley here in Australia. It’s got a beautiful clean, nutty, fresh taste. This is the type of olive oil that you should be using for all your cooking (bonus if you can find organic). Forget those huge plastic jugs of olive oil from Costco. That stuff is garbage and won’t bring out the true flavor of your food. I’m also using organic pine nuts, which are optional, but which I highly recommend, as they add a rich nutty taste to the pesto.

Vegan Pesto
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Make a big batch of this pesto when basil is season, and freeze it to enjoy it in the cold months! Vegan / Gluten-Free
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce, Spread
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients using a food processor or immersion blender.
  2. Serve immediately, or distribute in an ice cube tray, seal in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.

You’ll notice how 2 packed cups of basil only ends up making 1/4 cup of pesto. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, a little goes a long way, so I like to freeze part of my batch by using an ice cube tray – a little trick that my mother taught me. After filling the tray with the amount of pesto that I want to freeze, I place it in a freezer-safe zipper bag and set it in a safe spot in my freezer. After the pesto has set, you can pop-out and defrost your pesto as needed. If you need your ice tray back sooner, you can just pop the frozen cubes directly into the freezer-safe zipper bag or a plastic container and place it back in the freezer. This is a great way to have “fresh” pesto at any time, and it tastes way better than any of the store-bought stuff that is full of preservatives. I used to do this all the time in Canada with fresh basil grown in my garden, so I would have “fresh” pesto into early winter, when fresh basil is difficult to find and very expensive. This full recipe makes between 11-12 small pesto cubes.

Vegan Pesto (also Gluten-Free)... and Tips on How to Freeze it Vegan Pesto (also Gluten-Free)... and Tips on How to Freeze it

20 Comments

  1. Linda says:

    i made my own babyfood using ice cube trays! love the idea to freeze pesto like this!

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      My mom made her own baby food that way too – that’s how I learned this little frozen pesto trick. I love being able to pop “fresh frozen” pesto into a stir-fry or pasta… Easy and delish :)

      Reply
  2. Ian says:

    Yes it is a great trick for sure! I’ve got 3 trays of frozen pesto from the massive amounts of basil that ended up taking over a portion of my garden this year.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Jealous! I miss being able to grow my own food – especially herbs, since they are so easy to grow, yet so expensive to buy!!

      Reply
  3. This is a really nice post. thanks for sharing

    Reply
  4. Tricia Bayer-Burkholder says:

    Great! Can’t wait to make this. I used the ice cube tray trick a LOT when I made all my own baby food for my twin boys. It is a fabulously handy trick! :)

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Tricia! Thanks for your comments – that’s a great idea for baby food :)

      Reply
  5. Radhika Sarohia says:

    Looks good! Will try this out.
    I make vegan pesto often and the recipe is similar except it calls for nutritional yeast along with the other ingredients.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Thanks Radhika! I’ve never added nutritional yeast to my pesto, but it’s a good idea. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  6. Jenny says:

    I’ve just spent a good half hour ogling your recipes, so I thought I might as well say hello. This pesto looks fantastic, and hear hear to the Cosco EVOO. It’s horrible! I bought it a while ago and it took me way to long to figure out why all of my sauces and dressings were turning out so badly. You’re right that cold pressed is a biggie, and that plastic also ruins the flavor. I’ve found Bertolli is acceptable, not the greatest, of course. Anyways, really enjoying your blog.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Hi Jenny – You’re right about the plastic. I try to buy all my olive oil in glass bottles now. It costs more but it’s definitely worth it! Glad you like my blog – thanks for stopping by :)

      Reply
  7. Dan says:

    Another idea is to use cashews instead of pine nuts. They cost half as much as pine nuts and have a very similar texture and sweetness. When blended with nutritional yeast, it makes for a nice alternative to parmesan, an essential ingredient in traditional Italian pesto.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      Great idea – thanks Dan!

      Reply
    • michelle lafayette says:

      The cashews are a GREAT IDEA, and I will most definitely try that one. This recipe works BEAUTIFULLY with spinach. I grow my own basil all year long, But some in my family just don’t like basil. Spinach is a perfect sub in this one.

      Reply
      • vegangela says:

        Spinach pesto? I’ve never thought of that. Must try that! Thanks for sharing :)

        Reply
        • michelle LaFayette James says:

          WELL, you pretty much ruined me with this truffle oil stuff. I ordered it opened it, thought this stuff smells like dirt. What am I to do with this…. OH BOY. Just a drizzle and I’m addicted. I recently bought some white truffle salt. It is amazing. I top my pasta w/pesto with this, (and a lot of other stuff) It is Heavenly.l am so glad I got your blog it has truly been help full. I was already a vegetarian. This made the final leap tastefully very easy! Thanks Again!

          Reply
          • Ah! I’m sorry… and you’re welcome? I have some truffle salt too. It’s absolutely incredible. Try it in scrambled breakfast tofu. Life-changer!

  8. Clarisa says:

    I’ll have to try pine nuts and cashew as an alternative sometime, but I’m hooked on pistachios. And I never use parmesan cheese nor nutritional yeast.

    Reply
    • vegangela says:

      I’ll definitely try pistachios – thanks for the tip!

      Reply
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