This Dairy-Free Pesto Is Simple, Indulgent-Tasting & Healthy
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Just like there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there are many ways to make a pesto.
(OK, not the best food analogy… moving on.)
The ingredients are simple enough at heart – basil, pine nuts, some good olive oil, coarse salt, and some kind of cheese (often a combination of a couple, like Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano).
Though many chefs – classic and modern – disagree about the best way to make it.
Many Italian recipes call for the pesto to be made in a mortar & pestle. This apparently allows for the flavors to mesh together in a way that the rough blade of a food processor or blender simply cannot achieve.Drink THIS Before Bed… Wake Up Feeling MUCH Less Pain
However, this takes time. And at the end of the day, many chefs argue that pesto made in a blender or food processor will work in a pinch.
Well, I’ve made pesto in a mortar & pestle, a food processor, and a blender… and I have to admit, I’ve made delicious results using all three methods.
(And I love pesto so much, I won’t turn up my nose just because of a difference in methods!)
My favorite method of all, though, begins with pounding your herbs and aromatics in a mortar & pestle, followed by a quick blitz in the food processor.
So that’s my opinion on methods… and I included a couple of different method options in this delicious pesto recipe.
However, the method is not the only way pesto can vary.
What about a pesto that doesn’t have any cheese?
Well, I experimented with quite a few different ingredients and methods…
And I’ve found a really easy way to make a delicious, nutritious pesto that tastes just as savory as the traditional method – without using any dairy, and without having to use a mortar & pestle.
Let’s get started:
FTH’s Delicious Dairy-Free Pesto (For Better Gut Health & Less Inflammation)
Equipment Needed: Mortar & pestle, high-speed blender, or food processor
Recipe Time: 10-15 minutes
Makes: Almost 2 cups
- 3 cups basil leaves, packed relatively tightly (from approx. 2 bunches)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup miso paste, preferably a lighter miso such as white or yellow (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
- A pinch of kosher salt, plus more to taste
1) Make the garlic paste.
Place the clove of garlic and a large pinch of kosher salt in a mortar & pestle, and pound into a paste. Alternatively, you can finely mince the garlic with a little salt until it looks paste-like and homogeneous.
2) Blend your pesto!
If you’d like to partially make the pesto in a mortar & pestle (my personal preference), then slowly incorporate a handful of basil leaves and about a tablespoon of nuts at a time and pound into a paste, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt here and there as needed.
Continue doing this until you’ve used about half the basil.
Next, add in about half the miso paste and pound until incorporated.
Add your paste to your blender or food processor, along with the rest of the miso paste, nutritional yeast, optional lemon juice, and salt. Top with the olive oil, then pulse until it comes together into a sauce. Taste and add salt if necessary.
If you’re NOT using a mortar & pestle:
To the bowl of your blender or food processor, add the nuts, miso paste, salt, and about 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Pulse a few times, then add the basil, garlic, remaining olive oil, nutritional yeast, and optional lemon juice.Your Body Can Repair Itself… Click Here to See How
Pulse a few more times until it looks like it’s coming together. (Be careful not to blend for too long or the oil will heat up and taste overly bitter.)
Taste it and add a pinch of salt if needed.
There you have it! Delicious, savory, “cheesy” pesto without the cheese.
- Miso paste contains a lot of savory flavors that provide a lot of the roundness normally provided by cheese. However, some of the darker misos (such as red miso) can overpower a light sauce like pesto, so it’s best to use a lighter miso if you can.
- If you’re not using a mortar & pestle, a pro tip is to make sure you blend your pesto in a vessel where the olive oil covers the bottom-most blade. This allows your blender to do less work with a superior flavor. (Otherwise, only part of the sauce will be flung into the blades at a time, which may lead to inconsistencies in the finished product.)
“Why Is Miso Paste So Good For Your Gut Health?”
In a word… bacteria.
Miso paste is a fermented food product, which basically means it’s been aged in a controlled environment over time. Over this time, the composition of the product (and the taste) evolve and change.
And as it ages over time, what starts out as salt, soybeans, and koji (AKA Aspergillus Oryzae) transforms into nutritional gold – chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and the “good” bacteria our guts need to properly digest food (and turn it into fuel).Joint Pain GONE: Without Harmful Prescription Pills (Here’s How)…
Asian cultures have been aging food like this for thousands of years, not only because it’s part of their culture and tastes delicious… but because it’s GREAT for your health too!
It tastes salty, a little sweet, earthy, “umami,” and very rich, though it’s 100% vegan. It’s also COMPLETELY safe to eat, because the bacteria that grow in miso cultures are naturally antimicrobial and keep the dangerous ones away.
Basically, it’s an amazing food if you’re trying to be a little healthier. (I personally cook with it whenever I can – one tablespoon in a sauce goes a LONG way!)
And research shows that good gut health is linked to better mental and physical health, which honestly makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
So while the miso paste might seem like a “small” part of this recipe… it packs a big punch when it comes to your health (not to mention the amazing flavor!).
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Miso paste is such a delicious, powerful tool for gut health. Plus, it can really help you cut back on dairy without sacrificing flavor…
And because it’s probiotic, science shows it’s awesome for improving digestion, staying “regular,” and decreasing bloating as well…
But if you’re trying to REALLY boost your gut health… and maybe even increase your metabolism, too… miso paste on its own probably isn’t enough.
(Especially if you don’t want to eat spoonfuls of miso paste every day.)
Even if you do stick to a dairy-free lifestyle religiously (no matter how many times you longingly look at the ice cream in the frozen section at your grocery store)… at the end of the day, you’re still depriving yourself.
And let’s be honest… depriving yourself is no fun.
Instead of focusing on cutting out certain foods… how about adding in nutrients that will result in greater gut health and increased metabolism?
Nutrients like the probiotics in miso paste… but on a larger scale.
So you might be wondering…
“Are there any probiotic foods that WILL help with boosting my metabolism and improving my health? Something that can make a significant difference on their own, even if I sometimes give in to my ice cream love affair?”
And if so… what are they??
Well, I did the research…
And after looking through hundreds of studies, I found that only these 4 probiotic strains are associated with increased metabolism:
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[Note: This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on February 23, 2020.]