Easy Nut Free Basil Pesto

1 Cup
5 min

Did your life change after you discovered a nut allergy in the family? My daughter has a peanut allergy and although it wasn’t exactly life changing, it definitely changed my outlook and I developed an awareness to nuts that I didn’t have before. Thankfully, it is only peanuts that she is allergic to and is fine with other varieties of nuts. Prior to this, peanut butter was a staple in our household. It was not only good for spreading it on toast but I also used it in many savory peanut dishes. We tried almond butter but it just didn’t quite hit the same as peanut butter. My go to butter now is sun butter and I find it tastes the most similar to peanut butter.

Although my daughter only has a peanut allergy, we typically don’t keep nuts in the house nor do I cook or bake with nuts. The risk for cross contamination is just not worth it in my opinion. I don’t need the scare. I’ve always associated pesto with the addition of pine nuts but after making it without them, I found that I didn’t really miss them at all. The deep fragrance of the basil is what I really wanted and this nut free pesto allows it to shine. As we are deep into summer, my basil plants have exploded and this is the perfect way to preserve the basil. You can make a huge batch and freeze it for pesto year round. We love it not just in pasta but I also like to use it as a spread on sandwiches, pizza or flatbread. You can also add more lemon and olive oil and it makes for a fantastic salad dressing.

If you want the pesto to keep the vibrant green color then I highly recommend adding in some other greens such as spinach, parsley or carrot tops. Whatever you have an abundance of from the garden. The pesto remains green for a much longer time and does not oxidize as quickly to the dull green.

Here is the pesto being used in pesto spaghetti! It's delicious!

Recipe details
  • 1  Cup
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 5 min
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  • 2 cups packed of fresh basil leaves, or alternatively 1 3/4 cup fresh basil and 1/4 cup spinach, parsley or carrot top leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a food processor, add in your basil and other leaves that you may be using. Pulse it a few times to chop up the leaves a little.
Add in the chopped garlic, lemon juice, pepper and grated parmesan. Pulse a few times.
With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Use the smaller quantity if you want a thicker pesto and the higher quality if you want it a little thinner.
Scrape down the sides of the pesto, taste and add salt to pan your taste. The parmesan adds lots pd saltiness so I don’t like to salt it until the end. Pulse a few more times to ensure it is homogenous.
The pesto is now ready for use or you can also freeze it for later. If freezing, I like to store it in a ziploc freezer bag, flattened. I can break off chunks of it as needed for use later.
  • Allison Allison on Aug 24, 2022

    Pine nuts are a seed not a nut and therefore have a different botanical category from tree nuts ( as peanuts do) I am anaphylactic to peanuts and peanut products and have no problem with seeds or tree nuts but your daughter might be sensitive. Brava you for finding a work around for the pesto Better to be safe than sorry!!

    PS it’s so challenging to avoid peanut in the American diet!!! Ugh watch the cashews from Costco…roasted in peanut oil!!

    • Thanks for the tip about the cashews from Costco! You’re right about the pine nuts but I’m always afraid of any kind of cross contamination when it comes to nuts. I want to expose her to other nuts but just can’t take that risk. I wished that more almonds were not roasted in a peanut facility as she is completely fine with tree nuts.