This vegan tahini basil pesto uses sesame seed paste in place of pine nuts for a less expensive, equally delicious option. Because no cheese is involved this pesto freezes well and it’s a great way to use end-of-summer basil.
I’m sharing a roasted tomato and vegetable soup recipe tomorrow featuring this vegan tahini basil pesto, but wanted to post them separately because I think the pesto is great as a standalone recipe. If you’re not too fond of tahini, don’t worry – the basil and garlic are the major flavours here and tahini adds a bit of creaminess and umami without the high price point of pine nuts.
I don’t think I’ve ever bought pine nuts and usually add sunflower seeds or hemp to pesto, but tahini is a new favourite. It cuts out some of the time needed to blend because it’s already a paste, and if your food processor or blender isn’t particularly strong you won’t end up with chunks of seeds or nuts in your pesto.
This doesn’t taste like a traditional pesto as pine nuts have a much more neutral flavour than tahini, but it’s an enjoyable change. To be quite honest I didn’t think I’d like it. Tahini can be a bit overwhelming for my taste at times, but used here in a fairly small amount and in combination with strong ingredients, it’s a nice addition. Use it any way you’d normally have pesto – on pasta, pizza, soup, and so on.
My mom’s herb garden is packed with herbs at the moment, and we’ve always made pesto to freeze in ice cube trays (I use this one) to last through the winter. Leaving the cheese out makes it easier to preserve. If you want to hold on to some of your summer basil, definitely choose freezing over drying.
Dried basil tastes like nothing and, on the other side of the spectrum, a pesto cube will add life to just about anything you’re cooking. Popping one into anything tomato based at the end of the cooking time or thawing a couple to make a quick pasta will make the winter months much easier to bear, I promise.
Keep an eye out tomorrow for an end of summer soup recipe and come back Friday for a giveaway! My first real giveaway, and it’s a good one. I’m doing a few back to school/autumn giveaways with great Canadian companies in the upcoming weeks (and don’t worry if you don’t live in North America, I’ll be doing some worldwide giveaways later this year).
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- 80 grams / 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of a lemon, ~ 3 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Place the basil, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt into the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until the basil has broken down and is fairly smooth.
- Add the olive oil in a slow stream, keeping the food processor running, until the pesto is smooth and lighter in colour. Spoon into a jar or container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze indefinitely.
* A smaller machine will work more effectively for this recipe, or you can use a stick blender (which are amazing if you don't have much space/cash! I use mine just about every day).