Oil-Free Vegan Pesto – Recipe & Tips

When you think of pesto, you probably imagine the light green sauce we know as pesto alla Genovese, made with basil and pine nuts and usually some type of hard cheese. This is my go-to pesto recipe because the flavor of fresh basil is pretty incredible. When I talk vaguely about pesto, this is what I am referring to.

But, that isn’t the only way to make pesto. In fact, all you really need is the right leafy green and you can make pesto out of almost anything. I’ve used carrot greens, spinach, a mix of herbs, sundried tomatoes and now…ramsons!

Making pesto is pretty easy if you have a food processor but if you prefer the old school method that requires a mortar & pestle you’ll need a bit more muscle to get the job done. Either way will work, so pick your method and grab your ingredients.

Let’s start with basic ingredients for vegan pesto!

Vegan Basil Pesto Ingredients

Ingredients
Basil
Scallions (optional)
Lemon (juiced)
Garlic
Pine nuts (I like to lightly toast them)
Nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan)
Water (if needed and added gradually)

That’s a super basic ingredient list, right? Pesto, for all its delicious flavors, isn’t a sauce that’s over-complicated and that’s certainly part of it’s charm. It’s so flavorful that a little bit goes a long way.

Tip: If you use more than a bunch or 2 of basil, give it a pulse or two on its own before adding the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is especially important if you choose to go oil-free because you won’t get that smooth chop that comes with adding 1/4 cup or more of olive oil to the pesto.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and start with a gentle pulse until the ingredients start to blend. If you’re having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and crank up the speed of the food processor until you get the desired consistency.

Tip: Add half the lemon juice up front and the rest as you need more liquid to break up those leafy greens, and then switch to water or you’ll end up with a SUPER lemony pesto.

Tip: Add nutritional yeast a little at a time, tasting as you go. If you use vegan parmesan, please let me know your tips because I have some Violife Parmesan arriving in the mail…any day now today!

If you make a big batch of pesto, I recommend adding a teaspoon of oil after two days to make the batch last longer. If you make enough for one or two days, feel free to keep the pesto oil-free.

My mother-in-law recently returned from the local Farmer’s Market with a huge bag of ramsons, also known as wild garlic or ramps (pictured below) and once I got a whiff of that yummy garlicky scent, I knew this would be perfect for pesto. The first batch, which I didn’t photograph, was super garlicky because I added about 20 grams of roasted garlic to the pesto. It was delicious but very, very garlicky.

Very.

For the second batch, I decided to go with a vegan Ramson Pesto alla Trapanese style vegan pesto which means leafy greens, nuts and fresh tomatoes. I had some heirloom kumatoes that I hoped would work.

Organic Kumato

My Ingredients:
Ramsons
Lemon (juiced & zested)
Walnuts
Kumato
Mustard
Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parm
Tabasco sauce (just a few drops)
Water

Break up the ramsons with a few pulses in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients, starting with a slow pulse and then giving them a good go ’round until you have a nice pesto consistency.

If the leaves aren’t broken up enough, add water or lemon juice to keep it an oil-free pesto, but if you don’t mind some extra fat, add oil one teaspoon at a time.

Refrigerate and add to your favorite pasta dishes, sandwiches or whatever else you fancy. In fact, tell me in the comments section how you like to enjoy your pesto. My favorite thing to do besides enjoy it on a toasted baguette or crackers, is to add some veggiegurt to it for a creamy, flavorful salad dressing.

Quick and easy oil free vegan pesto!

Next time you make pesto of any kind, I’d love to see it so hit me up on Facebook or Instagram with photos!

The Lazy Vegan’s Totally Plant Based Buddha Bowl

Lazy moments happen to the best of us and all you can do about it is either complain about it or push through it. Personally, I prefer to do a little bit of both, mostly complain while I push through it.

But that’s just me.

One of my go to meals when I’m feeling lazy because, for example, the temperature has been creeping up towards forty degrees Celsius and you just don’t wanna be in the kitchen, is a Buddha bowl. All you have to do is take a quick look around this blog and you’ll find enough vegan bowl recipes to wonder if I know how to cook anything else.

I do, but Bowl meals are an excellent way to provide your meal with:

Variety

Tons of nutrients

Carbs

A mix of veggies

And you can do it without adding any animal products or unnecessary fats.

Today’s Bowl is aptly called, The Lazy Vegan’s Buddha Bowl

There are a few reasons this recipe is made for the lazy vegan and the first is, the oven. You can put everything in the oven (in stages) and it will do all of the hard work for you.

The best part of all? This recipe is completely plant based!

Here’s what you need: Corn on the cob, potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms & couscous…easy, right?

The mushrooms and potatoes went into the oven first because potatoes take forever, especially on our 50 year old stove in our Romanian rental and also because…potatoes. The mushrooms will need to cook out a lot of that water if you want them to have a substantial feel to them and also, a little bit of a bite.

Season them however you want. I used a blend of cumin, harissa powder, salt & pepper, turmeric, smoky paprika and baharrat. These are the main spices I used for just about everything, only mixing it up so they all blended together beautifully. The corn I seasoned with salt, black pepper and garlic granules and vegan butter, wrapped it in foil and cooked about 15 minutes in the oven.

Okay, I lied, the broccoli was already done when I popped it into the oven to give a bit of crispiness on the edges. And it was delicious!

If you think this meal is a little too bland–it isn’t–then you can whip up a quick vegan pesto cream like I did.

Take your favorite pesto recipe and add some vegan yogurt to the mix and voila, you’ve got a nice sauce to add on top of your vegan Buddha bowl!

The pesto is a mixture of basil, parsley and carrot greens but feel free to use whatever makes you do the Yum Yum dance.

Just plate it, eat it and then brag to all your friends that you got to eat all this for just 539 calories!

What’s your favorite type of Buddha bowl?

 

Simple Herb-Roasted Veggies with Couscous

Some days I feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up a delicious vegan meal from scratch because it keeps my cooking skills active and it’s a great way for me to work out plot problems while occupying my mind with something else. Then there are those days where I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, BUT I also want a meal that’s tasty and nutritious.

And quick.

This was one of those days but the good news is that with a little bit of prep you can be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour. The first thing you want to do is prep. Clean, peel and chop all the vegetables you plan to put into the dish, for me it was marinated mushrooms, onion, carrots and potatoes. The onions were marinated in balsamic vinegar, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper FIRST, and set aside while I finished the chopping.

Because the mushrooms take some time to cook, you should get them going first, cooking until the water is all evaporated before adding the rest of the vegetables. Now I didn’t use oil in this dish but a tablespoon can be used after the mushrooms have been cooked properly. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try it without oil. Your heart will thank you.

The couscous is the easiest part of this meal, just boil water (2 to 1 ratio) and drop the couscous and remove from heat until the water is absorbed. Make this dish less dense by fluffing the grains with a fork before serving. Add a bit more nutrition by adding a 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric to the water.

The real star of this dish is the herb pesto that I whipped up and best of all it’s oil-free!

I used fresh basil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts and a handful of carrot greens for the pesto. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, add lemon juice and zest and seasoning. I didn’t use oil so I added water or acid to mix up the greens and the consistency came out perfectly. You might have to stir and mix it a few times while you do but it’s worth the extra minute or two it takes.

I like to add a few drops of chipotle Tabasco sauce and a pinch of cumin for a deeper, smokier flavor but test out different herbs & spices until you find a combination you love.

I don’t know if you noticed but I also added a can of butter beans, which I rinsed and added during the last few minutes of cooking, adjusting the seasoning one final time.

Layer the couscous and then the vegetables and add a spoon of pesto on top and you’ve got a meal that’s healthy, delicious and nutritious in under an hour.

And of course you need something to wash it down with, in this case a dark oatmeal stout.