Dairy-Free Vegan Walnut Pesto with Basil is infused with basil and makes a perfect condiment or sauce for a favorite Italian-themed recipe. This easy recipe use walnuts instead of pine nuts for a more affordable and delicious sauce. Take advantage of the amazing basil flavors all year long.
I was a picky eater as a child. I hated just about everything in today’s recipe. However, taste buds change over time. It’s a good thing too because otherwise I’d be stuck with a diet of macaroni and cheese and Count Chocola. I certainly wouldn’t be eating Walnut Basil Pesto served over pasta with steamed broccoli, chopped tomatoes, and black olives.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Sautéed Garlic — Most pesto recipes call for raw garlic, but we’ll sauté the garlic for this recipe. Raw garlic is too overpowering, but the cooked garlic is perfect
- Chopped Kale — We’ll add chopped kale for more flavor and a thicker pesto
- Adding vegan parmesan makes this recipe deliciously dairy-free without sacrificing flavor
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Fresh kale leaves (see note)
- Nutritional yeast flakes
- Vegan parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make Walnut Pesto
Pesto is so easy to throw together and adds flavor to so many favorite dishes. Here’s a synopsis of the tips to make this walnut pesto recipe.
- Sauté the Garlic — Combine chopped garlic with olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and cook until slightly tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Quick Fix Tip
Keep some garlic confit around to use in making quick pestos. Because the garlic is already tender and the oil is infused with garlic, it’s perfect to infuse a mellow garlic flavor (as opposed to raw garlic) in many dishes.
- Puree the Pesto. Next, add the cooked garlic (and any oil from the skillet) with the remaining ingredients and pulse until mostly smooth. Leaving some texture is fine.
How long can you keep walnut pesto?
Transfer any unused walnut pesto to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Pesto will keep up to 7 to 10 days when stored properly. You can also freeze it.
Here’s how to freeze walnut pesto. Simply transfer the pesto to an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. Then, when you’re ready to serve, heat either place a few of the frozen cubes out at room temperature or use the defrost setting on your microwave to thaw it out.
What is walnut pesto used for?
Think of garlic pesto recipes as a condiment or sauce for your favorite dishes. You can drizzle pesto over cooked pasta or even over toast (like a crostini). A smear of pesto on a bun for your veggie burger adds a lot of flavors. Pesto can even be used to add irresistible flavor to grilled corn on the cob.
Which nut is used to make pesto?
Usually, pine nuts are used to make pesto. They add great flavor and nutrition, but they are pricey. I love this recipe for making my pesto with walnuts because it’s more affordable and yields an amazing flavor.
Is Pesto good or bad for you?
Pesto is a tasty, low-carb condiment or sauce that’s low in carbs. Walnuts are packed with lots of wholesome nutrients.
Use these tips and tricks to make this garlic pesto perfect every time:
- I recommend cooking the garlic in a skillet over medium-low heat until tender because it causes the flavor of garlic to mellow
- If you don’t have a food processor, a blender will work as well
- This is a great keto pesto because it’s low in carbs. Serve it over zoodles (zucchini noodles) or low carb noodles; my favorite is Explore Foods Edamame Noodles.
- Pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week if stored in a sealed container
- Freeze pesto in a freezer-proof container or transfer to an ice cube tray and then transfer frozen pesto cubes into a freezer bag. These will keep up to 2 months in the freezer
- I do not recommend pesto for canning
- This is a dairy-free pesto using vegan parmesan
- The nutritional estimate is for the pesto only, not including the noodles.
- I use Nooch It Vegan Parmesan in this recipe which has only 2g net carb per tablespoon
- You can substitute nutritional yeast flakes in place of vegan parmesan.
More Italian Recipes
Do you love vegan Italian recipes? Be sure to try these:
- Place the chopped garlic in a skillet with one tablespoon olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic is slightly tender, about 3 minutes.
- Place the cooked garlic and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are combined and to the texture of your preference.
- Serve drizzled over pasta with steamed broccoli, sliced cherry tomatoes and black olives. It’ also makes a nice a topping for warm, toasted bread.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.