Citrus / Dips / Healthy Choices / Italian Food / Quick and Easy / See Hatsie Cook / Summer Recipes / Vegetables / Vegetarian

Cook: Nut-Free Basil Pesto

The basil growing in the Two Recipes Garden was looking a little scraggly, which is to be expected in the first weeks of October.  I held on to it as long as I could, watering it, pruning it, and generally making it as happy as I knew how to, but like all things Summer, they must end.  So one morning last week, I cut it down, brought it inside, washed it, and assessed my options.

But really there was only one: when one finds oneself with an abundance of basil, one makes pesto.

I adore pesto.  It’s fresh and bright and I would put it on just about anything.  However, K doesn’t eat nuts, and pesto when made traditionally is usually sky-high in calories and fat, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and cut out some fat while making it more inviting to K.  (I didn’t take into account that nuts or not, he hates pesto.  More for me!)

Pesto is super simple to make.  As long as you have some greens, a food processor (or mortar and pestle), a few key ingredients and some really good olive oil, you’ll be well on your way.

This pesto is brightened with lemon and seasoned simply with garlic, salt and pepper.  It’s wonderful as a sandwich spread, a dressing for some chicken salad (coming soon!) or tossed with warm pasta.  It’s a meal-maker, and couldn’t be easier.

This is a simple recipe that delivers a punch.

And the best part about pesto is that you can make it with just about anything.  If you’ve already used up the last of your basil, blanch some kale, then process with garlic, Parmesan and maybe a little bit of parsley and you have a perfect Fall pesto!  (Toast some walnuts and add them when you add the Parmesan cheese if you’re not nut-averse.  Yum!)

Any green, plus Parmesan cheese, plus toasted nuts, plus lemon and garlic equals pesto.  Get creative!  And if you or someone you cook for can’t eat an ingredient, don’t let that stop you.

Here’s the recipe.

Nut-Free Basil Pesto


  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup, packed, basil leaves
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  1. In a food processor, add garlic and pulse until minced.  Add basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.  Pulse to combine.   Drizzle in olive oil and pulse, then taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Store in an air-tight jar or container.  Pesto will keep about a week in the refrigerator.
Stay tuned for more pesto-inspired recipes!

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