Today I’m revisiting my favorite oil-free pesto recipe: another ‘oldie but goodie‘!
Back in 2007 my book eat, drink & be vegan was published. What? That was over a decade ago. Seriously, that’s shocking to me!
I imagine it’s hard to believe for those of you that have been reading along since the early days as well. So much much has changed in our vegan world since then, hasn’t it?
Think back 10 – even 5 years ago. Vegan is now a word that is largely understood. Stores are carrying vegan cheeses, ice creams, and milks galore! Ingredients like hemp seeds are no longer fringe.
When I wrote eat, drink & be vegan, vegan was still very much fringe – raising a vegan family was scandalous!
Vegan cookery was more about proving that vegan dishes could be indulgent and rival their non-vegan counterparts.
While I haven’t necessarily shied away from indulgent recipes over the years, my recipes certainly have always had the reputation of being ‘healthier’.
I’ve always used whole-grain flours and less refined sweeteners, and haven’t relied on vegan meat and cheese alternatives.
My recipes haven’t always been oil-free, but I did use oil much more sparingly than was popular in the era of vegan cooking.
So, when I wanted to adapt this Lemony Cashew Basil Pesto into a full oil-free pesto, it wasn’t at all difficult. There were only a couple of tablespoons of oil in the entire recipe.
How does this new oil-free pesto compare to the original?
Very well! It tastes just as incredibly flavorful. Rich, tangy, ‘cheesy’. Luscious and satisfying.
The only difference to me is how long it keeps in the fridge. With the oil, the pesto seemed to retain its bright color a little better and longer.
When I make this oil-free pesto, I always make a large batch and then keep extra in the fridge (or freezer) to use for another time. Without the oil, I estimate this pesto is best used within 3 days.
If you want to keep a little brighter color, just throw in a small handful of italian parsley with the blend. That touch of parsley will always bump up the color!
Back to the actual pesto recipe. This is one that readers contact me about time and time again. It’s become a favorite with you – and with my family too.
One of my favorite things to do with this oil-free pesto – apart from the obvious pasta – is to use as a base for pizza. You don’t need cheese, just this layer of pesto and a few choice toppings. It is delectable!
I’ve created a number of pesto recipes over the years, and this remains one of my favorites.
I do have one other oil-free pesto recipe that I’ve developed for a book that is my other favorite.
Anyone want to take a guess which oil-free pesto that is???
I’ll wait for your guesses in the comments!
Enjoy the pesto… x Dreena
LEMONY-CASHEW BASIL PESTO
- 3 - 3 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic
- ¾ tsp dry mustard
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-3 tbsp water add as needed
- 1 cup + 1-2 tbsp raw cashews see note
- 2½ - 2 3/4 cups packed fresh basil leaves (and tender stems, not stalks)
- 3/4 lb dry pasta of choice (ex: gluten-free, whole-grain) see note
- In a food processor, combine lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of water, and purée until fairly smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. If difficult to puree, add a touch more water (keep in mind that some pasta water will be added when tossing through pasta). Add cashews and basil and purée until fairly smooth (may leave some texture). Cook pasta according to package directions. When almost done, remove about 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and toss with pesto, using as much pesto as desired (see note). If pasta seems too dry, add some pasta water, 1 tbsp at a time, until moistened to preference. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and serve.
- Use brown rice, quinoa, or other gluten-free pasta for a gf dish; use spelt, kamut, or other wheat-free pasta for a wheat-free dish. Or try raw noodles like zucchini noodles.
- Raw almonds may be substituted in part or entirely for cashews, just add extra water or oil to moisten when puréeing.
- You can make this pesto in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
- When kept thick, this pesto also makes a dynamite sandwich spread or pizza sauce (or dollop on pesto as a pizza topping).
- I like a lot of sauce on my pastas, but you may prefer less; use up to 1 lb (450 g) pasta and add extra cooking water or oil to help distribute the pesto through the pasta.