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When it comes to pesto, store-bought doesn't even come close to homemade. Luckily it's quick and easy to make at home!

This dairy-free spin on classic basil pesto "pesto di pistachio" is made with dry-roasted pistachios and without parmesan.

With a tonne of fresh herbs, it's a great way to use up fresh basil from the garden. Perfect for pastries, pasta, and pizza - this stuff is so good you'll want to spread it on EVERYTHING.

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closeup of pistachio basil pesto showing the vibrant green color.Pin

🧾 Ingredients Needed

You only need a handful of core ingredients to make this simple pesto recipe. Here's everything to grab:

ingredients to make fresh basil pesto with pistachios measured out in bowls on a light gray surface.Pin

🌿 Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • Roasted Unsalted Pistachios - Unsalted is key here as this allows you to control the level of saltiness by adding sea salt to taste. If you can only find raw pistachios, roast them on a baking sheet at 350°F/175°C for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool fully before using them for pesto.
  • Fresh Basil Leaves - You only want to use the basil leaves so remove the stems, then wash and dry the fresh leaves well. You can also add other greens such as arugula and cilantro depending on what you have to hand. In the case of cilantro, as it has a stronger flavor I would keep the basil at a 4:1 ratio so that it doesn't get overpowered. Arugula can be used at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Fresh Garlic - If you're a garlic lover like me, 2 large cloves will give the pesto a nice kick of garlicky flavor. Feel free to drop this down to one for a more subtle taste.
  • Lime Juice - The combination of pistachio and fresh lime juice works amazingly. You can also use fresh lemon juice - avoid bottled lemon juice as this is not great quality.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - This is a key ingredient to great pesto, so go for good quality EVOO, I don't recommend replacing it with other oils.
  • Nutritional Yeast - Most green pesto is not vegan as it contains parmesan cheese. Nutritional yeast (nooch) is a great substitute here as it lends a hint of cheesy flavor to the pesto. If you can't get your hands on it, you can leave it out.
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🥣 How To Make Pistachio Pesto

Here are step-by-step images of making this simple basil pesto. You just need a food processor, a sealed jar, and a spatula. Remember, the detailed printable recipe card is at the end of this page:

ingredients for pistachio pesto in a food processor jug before blending.Pin

1. Add the basil leaves, pistachio nuts, chopped garlic, lime juice, nooch, sea salt, and cracked pepper to the bowl of a food processor.

pistachio pesto in a food processor after blending.Pin

2. Pulse until the ingredients form a chunky paste. Then slowly drizzle the olive oil in while the motor is running.

a spatula with green pesto on it showing the thick consistency.Pin

3. Once the ingredients have emulsified, the mixture should be thick but still have texture from the nuts. For a more creamy texture, continue blending until the pesto is smooth.

a jar of homemade basil pistachio pesto on a wooden cutting board with fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil in the background.Pin

4. Transfer it to a glass jar and pour a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto before refrigerating.

🥖 How To Use Homemade Pesto

There are endless ways to use this delicious herby spread. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Pizza - Dollop it on top of your regular pizza or use it in place of pizza sauce.
  • Pasta - Stir into cooked pasta of your choice, or even layer it into lasagna.
  • Salads - It makes a great dressing for everything from green leafy salads to potato salad or pasta salad. I usually thin it out with some extra olive oil and lemon juice so that it coats the ingredients nicely.
  • Puff Pastry - Make savory tarts, pesto puff pastry pinwheels, etc.
  • Sandwiches - This pistacho pesto will instantly take boring sandwiches to a whole new level!
  • Veggies - As a dip for raw veggies or drizzled on top of roasted vegetables.
  • Bread - Mop it up with slices of bread or a baguette.

💬 FAQs

How to avoid pesto turning brown?

Firstly, make sure you use an airtight container to store your fresh pesto. But you can go a step further by adding a layer of olive oil on the surface of the pesto before storage. Basil leaves can oxidize quite quickly when exposed to air, so the oil creates a barrier preventing air from getting into the pesto which can turn it brown.

What types of nuts can be used in pesto?

This vegan pesto uses roasted pistachios which give a delicious nutty, earthy, and mildly sweet flavor. You can also go for more traditional pine nuts, which are technically seeds but give a nice buttery flavor.

Cashews, walnuts, and pecans also make great options for homemade pesto, adding their own delicious twist to the recipe. I often use a bag of mixed nuts containing roasted cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pistachios, and the combination is divine!

Can I make pesto without nuts?

You can use sunflower seeds in place of nuts in most pesto recipes. This is a more cost-effective option than using nuts, but the flavor of course won't be the same.

a slice of crusty bread on a wooden cutting board with a thick slathering of pistachio pesto spread on top.Pin

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📖 Recipe

Quick and Easy Pistachio Pesto (dairy free)

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PREP TIME: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
Servings: 7 makes 350g (approx 1.5 cups)
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Description

This quick and easy pistachio pesto is nutty, herby, and zesty with a kick of spicy garlic. Made with real, simple ingredients and in just 5 minutes. Incredibly versatile - it's so good slathered on crusty bread or as a base for basil pesto pasta!

Ingredients

  • 80 g (2 packed cups) fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 100 g (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted roasted pistachios, *see note 1
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed *see note 2
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste
  • 80 ml ( cup) extra virgin olive oil , plus extra for storage

Instructions

  • Prepare: Remove any long stems from the basil leaves and wash and dry them well.
  • Blend: To a food processor or high-speed blender, add the basil leaves, pistachios, lime juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and black pepper. Pulse until the ingredients have broken down into a chunky paste. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
  • Add oil: Slowly drizzle the olive oil while blending until emulsified. The pesto should be uniform but not too smooth retaining some texture.
  • Store: Transfer the pesto to a clean sealed jar or airtight container. Before sealing, pour a layer of olive oil on the surface of the pesto to prevent it from being exposed to air. Seal and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Pistachios: If you can only find salted pistachios that's fine, make sure you skip the added salt in the ingredients list.
  2. Lime Juice: Swap for freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Nutrition

Serving: 50g | Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 643IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
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