Is Pesto Vegan? Can You Live w/o This Sauce And Pasta Combination?

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Pesto sauces are made various ways and for that reason contain different ingredients. Basic ingredients found in most pesto are herbs, oil, and nuts. So, is pesto vegan? While pesto can be vegan, not all pesto is vegan or for that matter, equal.

Delightful vegan pesto options are in abundance, both recipes for homemade options and premade pesto are readily available. Vegan pesto is not only a healthier option than pesto with animal-based products, but it is also a delicious option!

By consuming vegan pesto, you benefit your body and your taste buds. According to Dr. Axe, pesto’s main ingredient basil is rich with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Does pesto contain dairy?

Some traditional pesto recipes do contain dairy in the form of parmesan or other hard cheeses. You may be surprised to discover, however, that the smooth creaminess that is associated with pesto actually stems from a non-dairy ingredient.

Pine nuts add more than just a nutty flavor, pine nuts create a smooth and creamy texture, especially when mixed and mashed with olive oil, another important pesto ingredient. The quality of these ingredients also enhances these qualities.

Some store-bought pesto will contain dairy and may use low-grade oils in place of olive oil. Likewise, some recipes will call for dairy products. However, substituting or removing the dairy product altogether is a quick fix that doesn’t compromise flavor.

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Great pesto doesn’t require dairy. What matters most is that you have a good recipe. The quality of ingredients is equally necessary for making smooth, creamy, and flavorful pesto!

Some traditional pesto recipes do contain dairy in the form of parmesan or other hard cheeses. You may be surprised to discover, however, that the smooth creaminess that is associated with pesto actually stems from a non-dairy ingredient. PINE NUTS!

Is Trader Joe's pesto vegan?

Trader Joe’s popular Pesto Alla Genovese does contain dairy products. A full list of ingredients is listed on the Trader Joe’s website, but what you mostly need to know is that TJ pesto contains cheese.

Trader Joe’s pesto also veers from traditional pesto recipes by incorporating sunflower oil and cashews into their recipe. These two ingredients can easily be added to vegan pesto recipes if you’re a former fan of TJ’s dairy pesto.

Trader Joe's popular Pesto Alla Genovese does contain dairy products. A full list of ingredients is listed on the Trader Joe's website, but what you mostly need to know is that TJ pesto contains cheese.

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The Best Vegan Pesto Brands

Check out the following vegan pesto brands. You are bound to like at least one of them!

Biona Organic: a reliable vegetarian and vegan-friendly pesto. Their green pesto is packed with pine kernels and basil. Meaning that it is packed with flavorful aromas and is extra smooth and creamy.

Le Conserve Della Nonna: this is a great dairy-free option for anyone also avoiding consuming gluten. The ingredients are minimal, allowing the main flavors to stand out, an approach that adheres to traditional French cooking guidelines.

Le Grande: unique for taking a simple approach to creating a tasty pesto with few ingredients. They also add in parsley, an herb that is less commonly seen on pesto ingredient lists.

Organico: it’s hard not to be excited about Organico’s approach to making pesto! They combine organic ingredients with silken tofu to create a smooth and creamy pesto that is dairy free and super healthy.

Sacla: is both gluten and dairy free, a double win! Basil is one of the most concentrated ingredients in their recipe, making it an aromatic option.

Zest: is packed full of nutrient-rich nuts. Zest pesto contains cashews, brazil nuts, and pine nuts. These nuts paired with basil create an extra rich pesto flavor.

BONUS: To learn how you can make your very own Basil Pesto Sauce, check out the video below!

Try this traditional pesto recipe, vegan style!

Traditional vegan pesto is all about the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts. This blend doesn’t need dairy to make it delicious and if you really want to give it a cheesy flavor then you can simply add cashew shavings.

  1. To make a single serving, begin by finely dicing 4 stalks of basil and 1 clove of garlic. Follow this step by combining the ingredients in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 of a cup of pine nuts. Squeeze half a lemon into the mix.
  2. Once these ingredients are combined in a bowl, you can mash and mix everything together with the simple method of using a fork or with a mortar and pestle. Food processors also work great for this step and will help you skip the first step of dicing.
  3. After the ingredients are sufficiently mixed together and have created the texture of your preference, add salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like a mock parmesan, you can use a zester to mist the pesto with cashew shavings.

Serve the pesto with pasta, baguette, or however you like! Dr. Mercola points out that pine nuts give you an energy boost so incorporate this food into your lunch on active days.

Take an adventurous approach to the way you make pesto!

If you want to live a little on the wild side then you can take a traditional pesto recipe and add some flare. Some simple ways to do this are by adding in less traditional nuts or replacing the pine nuts altogether. Try any of the nuts below!

  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts

Another way to add some excitement to your pesto is by adding in different cheese alternatives, like avocado, cashew or almond cheese, or tofu. Adding fresh herbs like basil or chives to compliment the basil will create a unique flavor.

Traditional vegan pesto is all about the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Conclusion

If you’ve been asking yourself, “Is pesto vegan?” then, your wondering can finally be laid to rest, but now you may be wondering if it’s better?

Vegan pesto is animal-friendly, contains nutrient-rich ingredients, and tastes great too! In fact, the Physicians Committee agrees that switching to a plant-based diet will lower your cholesterol dramatically. Sounds much better, right?

Great pesto that is healthy and kind to animals is not hard to come by. There are a variety of brands to choose from based on your preference of flavor and ingredients.

Additionally, making your own pesto is easily achievable with the right recipe. Vegan pesto is a nutrient-rich food that is nothing short of delicious!

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