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Monday, 9 January 2012

Vegan Pesto made in a Mortar and Pestle

I realised that I had never actually featured any pesto recipe here before. With my nut allergy, I don't actually make pesto that often. But I was inspired to make a nut-free version when I got this mortar and pestle as a Kris Kindle (Secret Santa) gift for Christmas in the office. What a thoughtful gift!

vegan pesto

Did you know that pesto infact originates from the use of a pestle to make it? (It's from the Genoese word Pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle).

While it does sound like it involves a bit of work to grind pesto in this way, it actually is very agreeable. The fragrances that are released during grinding are really exquisite and the result is a much tastier pesto despite the fact that this one was a nut-free version.

This is also garlic free but feel free to add it in if you like.

Vegan Nut-Free Pesto

Ingredients (yields only about 2 tablespoons of pesto)

25g, washed, fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste

vegan pesto, basil
  • Grind basil leaves in mortar and pestle (or blender).
vegan pesto
  • Add the nutritional yeast and salt (be careful with these two as nutritional yeast is already quite salty).

vegan pesto
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Lastly add enough olive oil to keep it moist and spreadable.
  • Cover and store chilled for at least an hour.
  • Pour a thin layer of extra olive oil, if you like, over the top to help keep it bright green.

vegan pesto


  1. Ooh, our basil is growing really well at the moment and I should totally make pesto. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I used to make pesto in my mortar and pestle. Then I thought using a food processor or immersion blender was easier. But it really isn't.

  3. Where can you buy nutritional yeast in Mauritius?


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