This Easy Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto is super simple to prepare and can be used as a condiment, dip and even a pasta sauce! This pesto is big on flavor, Vegan, Paleo and Whole30 compliant to boot!
There's nothing quite like a simple, savory homemade pesto. Am I right? With March just days a way, I'm already day dreaming of warmer spring weather, planting herbs in pots on my deck and ways to utilize my fresh basil harvest. I'll be honest. I have a really bad black thumb. Every spring I attempt an herb garden on my patio and every spring the herb garden becomes an herb graveyard. For whatever reason, the basil always survives and yields more than I know what to do with. I figured I should probably start coming up with ways to utilize it, so I developed this recipe for Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and it is so so so satisfying.
A traditional pesto is simply basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and garlic mashed together to create a sauce. This recipe is inspired by classic pesto but with a twist inspired by a store-bought pesto that has become a staple in our house. Aldi sells a jarred sun-dried tomato pesto and it is DELICIOUS. Chris LOVES it, but he's lactose-intolerant so it doesn't exactly agree with him. I always have his best interest in mind (I gotchu babe), so this pesto is a dupe for the Aldi version without the dairy!
Here's What You'll Need to Make this Easy Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Raw Cashews: I can't stress the importance of using RAW cashews enough. Many moons ago, I made the mistake of attempting a cashew cream sauce with roasted cashews and it was my biggest kitchen fail to date. You could also use raw pine nuts, but they're usually on the pricier side.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: If you're utilizing this pesto during a round of Whole30, make sure to check your labels. There are plenty of compliant jarred sun-dried tomatoes on the market, but it never hurts to double check!
- Garlic, lots of garlic.
- Thai Red Chili Pepper: So this will definitely add a bit of heat to your pesto, but it's totally optional!
- Lemon Juice & Zest!
- A Bunch of Basil (duh)!
- Nutritional Yeast: This stuff provides all of the cheesy, Parmesan -y flavor without the cheesy Parmesan.
- Tomato Paste: AKA food glue.
- EVOO: The quality of your EVOO will enhance the flavor of this pesto. I buy all of my high quality olive oils from HomeGoods. Y'all, the gourmet food aisle in that store is foodie heaven. If you don't know, now ya know.
How to Make Easy Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
This stuff is so simple to make, you'll never buy the pre-made stuff again!
- The first thing you'll need to do is soak the cashews for at least an hour. After an hour, if they can be easily smushed then they're ready to be made into pesto!
- While the cashews are soaking, you might as well get the rest of the ingredients prepped. Rinse the sun-dried tomatoes and give them a rough chop. Peel and smash the garlic cloves. Juice and zest half of a lemon, and if you're using the Thai red chili give that a rough chop as well.
- Moving along, in a blender or food processor add the soaked cashews with about 2 tablespoons of warm water. Blend the cashews until they become a pasty consistency. Think really thick oatmeal. Once it's reached that point, add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and chili pepper.
- Continue blending until well-combined.
- Next, add in the nutritional yeast, lemon juice/zest and tomato paste to the blender or food processor and start blending over medium speed. While blending, slowly drizzle in the EVOO until the pesto is smooth and well-combined.
- If you find the pesto is too thick, simply blend in warm water a quarter cup at a time until the desired texture is reached. VOILA!
So Now I Have All of This Pesto. What Do I Do With It?
I think the more appropriate question is, what don't you do with it? 😉
Pesto with Pasta
This is definitely my favorite way to use it. Simply heat it over medium heat with equal parts coconut milk to create a creamy pesto pasta sauce! Toss it with your favorite gluten-free noodles and you have yourself a delicious plant-based meal in minutes.
Pesto Dip or Spread
You can spread the pesto over bruschetta or sweet potato toast or dunk your favorite crackers or veggies into it. I also love mixing it 1:1 with tahini or coconut cream and serving it on a charcuterie board as a way to really impress guests.
Pesto Salad Dressing
You can blend it with oil and vinegar to make an absolutely incredible salad dressing!
Just a Few More Options
Using it as a pizza sauce or meat marinade are also great options. Heck, it's so good, you might as well just eat it with a spoon! This pesto is your oyster! The opportunities are endless! 😉
How to Store Easy Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Pesto stores very well. You can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week! You can also freeze pesto for up to a year. Try freezing the pesto in an ice cube tray and popping individual cubes from the tray as needed or simply freezing in a jar or plastic container. There's no reason any of this pesto should ever go to waste!
You have to try this pesto! With so many possible uses, it's the gift that keeps on giving! If you're a pesto lover and want to try it without cheese, this one is FOR YOU! I can't wait to see your beautiful pesto recreations! Tag your hearts out on social media with #paleoishkristaeats and tag me so I see it! When you guys share my recipes on social media, I'm like a kid on Christmas! It's the best thing ever!
PIN NOW! MAKE LATER!
WHILE YOU'RE HERE, YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CHECK OUT A FEW OF MY OTHER PLANT-BASED, VEGAN RECIPES!
- Vegan, Paleo AND Whole30 Jackfruit Carnitas
- Vegan Roasted Root Vegetable Gratin
- Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Spiced Carrot Dip
- Grilled Veggie Skewers with Sweet Italian Vinaigrette
- Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon and Garlic
Easy Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 thai red chili optional
- ½ lemon juice and zest
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl, soak raw cashews in hot water for at least an hour.
- Meanwhile, prep remaining ingredients. Rinse and rough chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Peel and smash garlic. If using, rough chop the Thai red chili. Juice and zest half of a lemon.
- Once the cashews have soaked for at least an hour and are tender to the touch, add them to a food processor or blender with 2 tablespoons of hot water and blend over medium-speed until a paste-like texture forms.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and Thai red chili (if using). Continue blending over medium-speed until well-combined.
- Add basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice/zest and tomato paste. Continue blending over medium-speed while slowly drizzling in extra virgin olive oil.
- If pesto is too thick, while blending slowly drizzle luke warm water a ¼ cup at a time until desired texture is reached.
- Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week.
- Pesto can be frozen in any airtight container for 9 to 12 months.
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