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Vegan Pesto Recipe with Almonds

We love a good pasta dish or two (or three) at my house. I never really liked Italian food, much to my husband’s sadness since it’s his favorite food. Pasta, pizza, he loves it all. But then I got pregnant… and all I wanted was pizza and pasta. And I ate a LOT of it. Eggs & Spaghetti. Pasta with beets & walnuts. Ziti. Luckily for him, my love of pasta has stuck around and now we have some sort of pasta dish at least twice a week.

While the tomato sauce varieties are delicious, my favorite pasta sauce is a good pesto. And any leftover pasta is amazing slathered on a piece of toasted bread. But since having Thomas, I needed a slightly modified pesto recipe since I am currently dairy-free while breastfeeding. So I tweaked one of my favorite pesto recipes that’s full of delicious mozzarella and parmesan to make it vegan and vegetarian friendly.

And I honestly can’t decide which one I love more.

I also realized that I don’t have many pasta recipes on the blog (just this ziti and, so consider this one an intro recipe for what’s to come! Let’s get to it!

Vegan Pesto Recipe with Almonds Vegan Pesto Recipe with Almonds

Vegan Pesto Recipe With Almonds

Ingredients

Pesto Recipe ingredients

Most of these ingredients will already be in your pantry, except maybe fresh basil. I’m planning to plant some basil this year so I can always have a lot around. And I highly recommend using FRESH lemon juice since that makes the flavor really pop.

And yes, this recipe used almonds instead of pine nuts. You can still use pine nuts if you want a more traditional pesto, but I just always have almonds handy, which is why I used those for this recipe.

2 cups packed fresh basil (large stems removed)
3 Tbsp raw almonds
2 large cloves garlic (peeled) or 1.5 teaspoons pre-chopped garlic
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
16 oz pasta, for serving
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan for serving (if you don’t need it dairy-free!).

Instructions

Step 1

In a good food processor, pulse the basil, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (if using), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped.how to make vegetarian pesto vegetarian pesto recipe | Vegan Pesto Recipe with Almonds

Step 2

With the blender still running, add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time until it forms a smooth and thick consistency. It’s usually 3-4 tablespoons for me.

Step 3

Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl.

Step 4

Stir in the cheese (if using).

Step 5

Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste. I add quite a bit of each! I’ve given you five steps but depending on whether you use cheese or a little extra salt and pepper, it could easily be only three steps. If you want to eat the pesto right out of the blender, you only need two steps. 🙂

Pasta Instructions

I prefer to serve this pesto with Cavatappi pasta, but any short pasta shape (like Rotini, Conchigliette, Macaroni, or Chiocciole) works well. No matter what type of pasta you use, just be sure to salt the water generously (I usually add 1-2 tablespoons to a big pot of water) when you cook the pasta.

Cavatappi pasta how to cook Cavatappi pasta | Vegan Pesto Recipe with Almonds easy vegetarian pasta

Step 1

Bring a big pot of water to a boil

Step 2

Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water

Step 3

Add 16 oz pasta to building water and turn down the stove to a medium-high heat so it doesn’t boil over.

Step 4

Cook pasta until al dente, usually 5-8 minutes for small pasta. I typically cook my pasta for about 1 minute less than what’s recommended on the package since I like quite a bit of chew. Nothing is worse than mushy pasta!!

Step 5

Add your pasta to your bowl of pesto and toss while it’s all still hot. Serve hot or at room temperature. It’s also delicious cold so you’ll be able to enjoy leftovers for a few days.

Leftovers

Cheese

Top with freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese just before serving, if desired. If you need it dairy free like me, I’ve also use the Violife vegan parmesan cheese for serving. It’s fine… but not worth buying just for this! The pesto flavor is enough on its own without it. Vegan cheese just isn’t the same!

You can also add nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, but it tastes just as good without it!

Cherry Tomatoes

Half cherry or grape tomatoes and toss with the pasta after you combine it with the pesto. It’s delicious, especially as we get into tomato season!

Broccoli

Want to up your veggie game? Lightly steam broccoli so it’s still a little bit crunchy and toss with the hot pesto and pasta!

Protein

Simple grilled chicken or shrimp is great with this. I season them just with salt and pepper and let the pesto shine.

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Vegan Pesto Recipe With Almonds

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  • Author: Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil (large stems removed)
  • 3 Tbsp raw almonds
  • 2 large cloves garlic (peeled) or 1.5 teaspoons pre-chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 16 oz pasta, for serving
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmesan for serving (if you don’t need it dairy-free!).

Instructions

PESTO:

  1. In a good food processor, pulse the basil, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (if using), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped.
  2. With the blender still running, add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time until it forms a smooth and thick consistency. It’s usually 3-4 tablespoons for me.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl.
  4. Stir in the cheese (if using).
  5. Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste. I add quite a bit of each!

I’ve given you five steps but depending on whether you use cheese or a little extra salt and pepper, it could easily be only three steps. If you want to eat the pesto right out of the blender, you only need two steps. 🙂

PASTA:

  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water
  3. Add 16 oz pasta to building water and turn down the stove to a medium-high heat so it doesn’t boil over.
  4. Cook pasta until al dente, usually 5-8 minutes for small pasta. I typically cook my pasta for about 1 minute less than what’s recommended on the package since I like quite a bit of chew. Nothing is worse than mushy pasta!!
  5. Add your pasta to your bowl of pesto and toss while it’s all still hot. Serve hot or at room temperature. It’s also delicious cold so you’ll be able to enjoy leftovers for a few days.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Cailin
    at

    Hi Teri, does the recipe have nutritional yeast in it? It’s mentioned in the ingredient list but not anywhere else in the post or shown in the pictures. Just wanted to check before making a yummy chicken pesto pasta for dinner.

    • Reply
      Teri [a foodie stays fit]
      at

      Ah shoot! Sorry about that! Yes, you can add nutritional yeast to the food processor! Or, you can leave it out! I left it out the day I took the photos because I was out, but typically I add it in!

      I’ll update the recipe – thanks for letting me know!

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