Your New Go-To (Healthy!) Basil Pesto Recipe

What better way to sample spring’s abundance of fresh herbs than with this healthy homemade basil pesto recipe?

Made with a base of creamy cashew nuts (which are half the price of traditionally used pine nuts), copious amounts of fresh basil, and about half the amount of oil typically used, this is a slimmed-down version of pesto. We ditched the cheese in favor of Celtic salt, so it’s dairy-free, too!

Use this delectable sauce on top of brown rice pasta, gluten-free toast, or stirred into quinoa. It’s so good though, you may end up spooning it right into your mouth.

Basil Pesto

Prep time: 7 minutes


2 cloves garlic

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

1 cup cashews (soaked overnight, or at least 4 hours, and drained—see note)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil (or more, depending on the consistency you want)


  1. Put garlic in Vitamix or food processor and pulse until chopped.
  2. Next add basil, and pulse again until it is broken down into small pieces.
  3. Add cashews and salt, and process on low (1–2 on a Vitamix) so that the cashews are broken into tiny pieces, but still maintain a little texture. If using cashews that haven’t been soaked, you may want to process on a higher level to get a creamier consistency.
  4. Finally, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until completely combined.
  5. Spoon into an airtight container.
  6. Can be used on pasta, as a dip, or in salad.

Note: Soaking cashews bring out the creamiest of textures. Simply put them in a bowl, cover with water, place a cover on the bowl, and let sit on the counter overnight or for at least 4 hours. (If you let them sit longer than overnight, refrigerate.) When ready to use, simply drain. If you forget to soak them, you can still make the pesto, but remember that it won’t be as creamy.

By Maria Marlowe


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