Vegan Pesto

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Click here to go straight to the recipe

My daughter MKat started us on the zero-waste path in 2011 at age 16 and soon afterward launched her blog “The Plastic-Free Chef.” She says my constant complaining about the sea of plastic in grocery stores inspired her to figure out how to change our routine. When she returned to the olde country (Canada) for university in 2013, she found the plastic-free routine and blogging about it difficult to keep up so she stopped writing. I asked her if I could take over her blog (I loved her blog…). When she said “No way!” I started this blog.

I recently transferred this blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted one. As a result, two of my daughter’s posts that I had reblogged disappeared. I thought I better put the vegan pesto back up. This is taken word-for-word from her site (i.e., plagiarized) but she said that was okay.

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Vegan Pesto

by MKat

I’m not vegan, but I started making vegan pesto because I can’t find cheese that isn’t packaged in plastic. I blogged about buying an unpackaged whole cheese wheel a couple of years ago, but it’s really expensive and you have to wrap the cheese in something when you get it home. You can shred all of the cheese and freeze it in glass jars, but that doesn’t take care of the fact that buying whole cheese wheels isn’t affordable for most people. I have a pesto recipe on this blog from a couple years ago that has cheese in it. But I don’t make that recipe anymore. I discovered something that makes pesto taste good without cheese—nutritional yeast. In some places you can buy nutritional yeast in bulk, but even if you have to buy it in a package you’ll cut down on waste because you only need a few tablespoons per batch of pesto. You’ll save money too.

Another thing I want to mention is that I discovered a great trick for storing basil without using disposable stuff. My summer job is working in a professional kitchen, and we have to store vegetables and fruits in plastic bags with paper towels to absorb moisture.  I tried storing the basil leaves for this pesto in a glass container with a cloth napkin and it worked. The basil leaves were still fresh and ready to use in pesto when I needed them.

A word on my food processor: yes the bowl is plastic, but glass food processors don’t seem to exist. I would love to have one if they did. This food processor is very old and might break soon (it’s 14 years old) and I’m going to replace it when it breaks if a repair isn’t possible. There is so much that you can do with a food processor. I can make a bunch of things in it that I would have to buy in plastic tubs otherwise. So I think it’s a worthwhile thing to own.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch basil leaves (about 120 grams or 2 cups packed)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts (pine nuts are the best for pesto but they cost $30 a pound so I don’t use them)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

Directions

Put basil, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt in the food processor. Pulse until well combined.

With food processor running, slowly pour in olive oil. Process until smooth. Store in a glass container in the fridge. I used a small jar.

I ate some with zucchini noodles for lunch. It was delicious.

Ingredients that were free of packaging
  • Walnuts – Bulk
  • Garlic – Bulk
  • Nutritional yeast – Bulk
  • Salt – Bulk
Ingredients that had packaging
  • Basil – Pretty minimal, but the basil had a rubber band around the stems.