I’ve been making a lot of pesto lately. I keep buying basil plants at Traders Joe’s ($3!) and then plucking them like I would imagine one plucks a chicken. It’s really easy to make vegan pesto, and when you cut out the cheese and substitute water for half of the oil, it has fewer calories than traditional pesto. Since pine nuts are so expensive, I use half walnuts/half pine nuts to save money. (I’ve also made this recipe using all walnuts, and it still tastes delicious.) This pesto is not only wonderful on pasta, but also on pizza and roasted vegetables. Note: There is a happy ending for the basil plant that looks dead in the photo- I stuck it back in my garden and it came back to life and produced another great batch of pesto.


Vegan Pesto


  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2½ cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Fresh black pepper

  1. Put the nuts in a food processor. Add the garlic and pulse everything into fine crumbs. Add the basil, salt, nutritional yeast and water and puree until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides at least once to make sure everything gets blended. Stream in the olive oil and blend until well combined. Add pepper to taste.