Kale & Basil Pesto

GF
SF
V
This incredible dairy-free oil-free vegan pesto is a game changer. If you’re looking for the perfect dip, something to add to your salads, drizzle over soup, stir through pasta, or dollop on pizza – this is your guy!
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Prev Next
top down of kale and basil pesto with crackers on sides and basil leaves

Are you a pesto lover? If not, this Kale & Basil Pesto recipe is going to be a total game changer. I used to make pesto with oil, but recently tried it with aquafaba or chickpea brine, and can I just say – wow. It’s even better than the original.

If you’re looking for the perfect dip, something to add to your salads, drizzle over soup, stir through pasta, or dollop on pizza – this is your guy. So delicious, we had to make vid to show you how! Think…

Creamy
Rich
Dairy free
5 minutes
Packed with greens
Zero oil
& Seriously delicious

Watch How To Make Vegan Pesto

What Is Pesto Made Of?

Pesto, or pesto alla genovese, is a sauce traditionally made from garlic, basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt. It originated in the 16th century in Genoa, the capital of Liguria in northern Italy.

You can keep it thick, or thin it down with a little extra water (or oil as is often done) to dress over pasta. Using pesto as a dip for crackers and veggies like I do, will probably make my Italian friends’ hair stand on end. But it’s so deliziosa, I think we can get it past them.

Buffy Ellen scooping kale and basil pesto with crackers on sides and basil leaves

How to Make Healthy Vegan Pesto

Pesto is typically pretty high in calories and fat, thanks to the wallop of oil and cheese within. 2 tablespoons of a store-bought basil pesto might set you back 460 kJ and 11 grams of fat. For comparison, that’s the energy equivalent of 1 ½ apples, or 1 ½ punnets of strawberries.

There’s also some evidence that we may want to reduce our vegetable oil consumption (even the good olive oil type). I talk about this more in my Cooking School, but for now know that there a few reasons why. It’s very energy dense, it’s an extracted rather than a whole food, it contains no fibre, and it’s high in omega 6 essential fatty acids therefore can disrupt our omega 6 to 3 ratio. The evidence that a Mediterranean diet is correlated with good health outcomes is very true, but much of this is now thought to be attributed to the high vegetable, fruits, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, and legumes portion of the diet. I.e, not so much the olive oil and red wine… (my Croatian father in law will no doubt disagree with me here).

So this recipe I’ve made without oil, using the brine from cooked chickpeas instead. You can either cook your own and use the cooking water, or use the brine from a can (ideally BPA free and organic). Or just use water, but the aquafaba does give it a thicker density. I’ve also subbed the cheese out for nutritional yeast – packed with B vitamins, and sometimes B12 if you use a fortified brand.

You’ll also notice I’ve used cashews instead of pine nuts. Not because I don’t love pine nuts, but rather that they’re super expensive here in NZ! Cashews bring the cost down a little, and give a sweet mellow creaminess. If you want to go one step further with the cost savings, try making this with hemp or sunflower seeds.

front on of kale and basil pesto with crackers on sides and basil leaves

How To Use Pesto

This vegan basil pesto is seriously versatile. Here’s how I love using it:

  • As a dip for crackers and fresh veggies – carrots, cucumber, celery, capsicum
  • Thin down with a little water, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar and use as a dressing
  • Thin down with a little water or aquafaba and drizzle over steamed, grilled or roast veggies
  • Spread on toast, topped with sliced tomato and rocket
  • Swirl through a bowl of soup for extra flavour and to make it look pretty
  • Spread on a wholemeal tortilla or pizza base, top with mushrooms, capsicum, red onion, and grill for 10 minutes – or make this Cauliflower Pizza
  • Drizzle over these Smashed Potatoes instead of aioli
  • Use in this Pesto Potato Salad
  • Stir through these Creamy Pesto Zoodles

I guarantee this batch won’t last you long. But if you get to day 4 and really don’t think you’re going to finish it off, scoop tablespoons into an ice cube tray, freeze, then pop into a sealed container in the freezer. Next time a recipe calls for a tablespoon of pesto, you’re set.

Delicious. Dairy Free. Oil Free. Pesto. Made with just 1 bowl, 5 minutes, and 7 ingredients. Keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen in cubes for 2 months. I hope you LOVE it!

top down close up of kale and basil pesto with crackers on sides and basil leaves, gold leaved knife

Looking for More Dairy-Free Spreads? Try These

If you try this easy dairy-free oil-free pesto, let me know! Leave a comment with a rating, and don’t forget to tag a photo @begoodorganics on Instagram so I can see what you come up with. Thank you sweet friend, it means the world.

GF
SF
V

Kale & Basil Pesto

This incredible dairy-free oil-free vegan pesto is a game changer. If you’re looking for the perfect dip, something to add to your salads, drizzle over soup, stir through pasta, or dollop on pizza – this is your guy!
5 from 1 vote
AuthorBuffy Ellen
Servings 25 tbsp (or 1 ½ cups)
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 handful basil
  • 1 handful kale stalks removed
  • 1/2 c cashew nuts
  • 1/4 c chickpea brine
  • 1/2 lemon flesh (+ a little zest)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

  • Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well combined but still with some texture. Add a bit more chickpea brine or water if needed to get the thickness you want.
  • Store in the fridge for 5 days, or freeze in an ice cube tray and place in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Equipment

  • Food processor

Recipe Notes

  • Make it nut-free: Use hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds instead of cashews.