Basil Pesto


Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese: Combine cashews, yeast, and turmeric in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute, or until the mixture is coarsely chopped.

Add garlic and pine nuts and process for 20 seconds. Don’t overprocess or the yeast will become gummy.

Add 2 cups of the basil and pulse for 10 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add salt and remaining 2 cups of basil. With the motor running, slowly add oil through the opening in the lid until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.

To Use

My favorite way to enjoy pesto is to spread it on toasted multigrain bread, add a thick heirloom tomato slab, and top with vegan Parmesan cheese. Pesto can also be thinned with olive oil and lemon juice and used as a dressing for cooked pasta, warm or cold salads, and cooked vegetables.

To Store

Pesto keeps in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

You’ve Got Options

In this recipe, Vegan Parmesan Cheese (page 39) is made in step 1, so if you have 1¼ cups already made, omit the first three ingredients and the first step. Add cheese to the bowl of a food processor and continue with steps 2 and 3.

Makes 2 Cups


  • 1 cup roasted and salted cashews

  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • ⅓ cup pine nuts or shelled raw sunflower seeds

  • 4 packed cups fresh basil

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

From “The Reducetarian Cookbook: 125 Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Omnivores, Vegans, and Everyone In-Between” by Reducetarian Foundation (Center Street, $21.99). Recipe developed by Pat Crocker. Photo by Ashleigh Amoroso.