Take a handful of fresh basil and spinach leaves and turn them into a nut-free vegan pesto in 5 minutes! To make this Italian classic condiment vegan you will need SEVEN simple ingredients. No expensive pine nuts or cashews nuts will be required to make this tasty spinach pesto recipe.
Condiments is not always worth making at home but sometimes it is just too damn easy like making Peanut Butter or Hummus. Sometimes the store-bought version contains so many weird ingredients but if you choose homemade you will know exactly what you are eating like in Vegan Cream Cheese or Vegan Sour Cream or Vegan BBQ Sauce. Browse through our Vegan Condiments recipes to find more.
Ingredients to make spinach pesto vegan
The original Italian pesto (also called pesto alla genovese) is made of pine nuts, basil leaves, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and a bit of salt. Traditionally, all ingredients are crushed in a mortar and mixed with olive oil. This is the base of all pesto variations including pesto with spinach.
How to make spinach pesto vegan and nut-free? If you have these 7 ingredients and a food processor you can have a delicious pesto in no time. So what do you need?
- Fresh basil leaves
- Fresh spinach leaves
- Nutritional yeast (instead of Parmesan cheese)
- Sunflower seeds (instead of pine nuts or cashews)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Nutmeg (optional – but it adds a lovely zing to it)
How to make vegan spinach pesto?
Prepare the ingredients
- Wash the basil and spinach leaves.
- Peel garlic cloves.
- Measure all ingredients.
Blend them in 5 minutes!
Making a vegan spinach pesto is really only one step. Add all ingredients to your food processor (to make a smaller serving size, use an immersion blender) and blend. You might need to stop and scrape the sides a couple of times before your pesto is ready.
The end result shouldn’t be as smooth as hummus, but there shouldn’t be any large pieces. Its texture should be similar to a thick, stiff paste with a little chunkiness.
Wanna try it with a mortar?
Do you want to go down the traditional route and use a mortar with a pestle?
- Start with crushing the garlic and the sunflower seeds to a creamy consistency.
- Add the nutritional yeast and the salt and mix thoroughly.
- Add the spinach and basil leaves little by little. As well as the olive oil. Alternating between the leaves and the oil.
- Crush them as hard as you can. It may take a while to get them to a chunky consistency.
What to do with pesto?
Think of anything Italian and then think outside of this box. We have a couple of ideas for you to start with:
- PASTA -> Pesto pasta of course. Traditionally Italians use mandilli de sæa (“silk handkerchiefs”), trofie, or trenette, but any type of pasta would be perfect. Add an extra layer of flavor to this Asparagus Lemon Pepper Pasta.
- LASAGNA -> You can turn a simple Vegan Lasagna into a Spinach Lasagna with a bit of pesto. We have this Vegan Cabbage Lasagna recipe where you can substitute this Spinach Pesto for the Spinach Alfredo in the recipe.
- PIZZA -> Skip pizza sauce and use pesto to make this Mediterranean Pizza. If you want to make a thin Italian-style pizza but need it to be gluten-free, check out this easy-to-roll Gluten-free Pizza Crust recipe.
- RISOTTO -> What’s not to love in Vegan Risotto especially with some spinach pesto for additional yumminess.
- MARINADE -> You can use it as a marinade for these Grilled Vegetable Kabobs or this Cauliflower Steak. Pesto would be perfect to add to any roasted veggies like these Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms side.
- SANDWICH -> Add it to a Grilled Cheese Sandwich or Bruschetta. I would totally try it with Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich. Skip the cream cheese and turn these Cream Cheese Pinwheels into a Pesto one.
Let us know in the comments what is your favorite dish with pesto!
FAQs and Substitutions
What can I use instead of sunflower seeds?
You can use any other nuts and seeds actually. The most popular ones to make vegan pesto is cashew nuts and pine nuts. But almonds, pecans, walnuts, and even pepitas (pumpkin seeds) work just fine. We choose sunflower seeds for their budget- and allergy-friendly nature as well as because we just love using sunflower seeds in place of other nuts and seeds.
What can I use instead of basil and spinach?
You can use any combination of fresh green herbs and leafy greens. The original pesto uses basil, but you can use mint, cilantro, or parsley. Instead of spinach, you can use kale, arugula (rocket salad), watercress, or any other collard green. The flavor profile will be slightly different for all combinations.
Can I use dried leaves instead of fresh ones?
Nope, I don’t recommend using dried leaves. The consistency will be way off.
This Spinach Basil Pesto recipe is dairy-free and egg-free. It is suitable for vegan, vegetarian, nut-free and gluten-free diets. It is not compatible with whole foods plant-based diet as olive oil is a kind of must-have ingredient.
More vegan spinach recipes
You can browse through our Vegan Spinach Recipes or check out these.
- The Easiest Cream of Spinach Soup
- Creamy Spinach Pasta Sauce
- Vegan Stew with Jackfruit
- Vegan Cabbage Lasagna with Spinach Alfredo
- Green smoothie (Kiwi Banana Spinach)
More vegan condiment recipes
You can browse through our Vegan Condiment Recipes or check out these
Vegan Spinach Pesto (Nut-free)
- Wash basil and spinach leaves. Peel garlic. Measure the other ingredients.
- Take a food processor and add all ingredients. Stop and scrape the sides from time to time.
- Blend until you get a thick, stiff paste-like consistency with a little chunkiness.
- Serving suggestions are above the recipe card.