Classic basil pesto (or pesto alla genovese) is made in a mortar and pestle and typically contains: basil, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and salt. My number 1 goal for this recipe was to “veganize” it. First things first, the parmesan had to go.
Unfortunately, pine nuts cost a small fortune and veganizing pesto proved to be more difficult than simply replacing the parmesan. The end result though? The flavour is THERE. This recipe checks all the boxes for delicious pesto: (1.) Lots of fresh peppery basil (of course), (2.) earthy nuttiness, (3.) salty “cheesy” umami, (4.) and a zesty kick of garlic. The bonus? (5.) This pesto is a creamy green dream of a sauce.
Let’s talk ingredients. The basil, olive oil, garlic, and salt stays the same. We’re gonna ditch the mortar and pestle and whip out the food processor, starting with the basil, salt, garlic, and raw cashews. For a slightly more economic pesto, cashews will replace the bulk of the pine nuts….