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Simple Dairy Free Pesto

With how well my Chimichurri Sauce turned out, I wanted to see if I could create a simple and quick pesto sauce too. I took a crack at it and it turned out really great. I made it without parmesan cheese because of my dairy allergy and to save cost. I also wanted to skip the pine nuts in a traditional pesto because they can be quite expensive and not something I like to keep in my cupboard. I've tried almonds and cashews instead and both worked as a great substitute. When ground up, the nuts gave that slightly gritty yet smooth texture that the parmesan and pine nuts create in a traditional pesto. Give this a try on your next pasta, pizza, veggies, dip, or any other use you have for pesto.

Ingredients - for a thicker pesto

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (or sub 1 tsp basil with 1/4 cup spinach or parsley)
  • 1/2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
Ingredients - for more of a pasta sauce consistency
  • 1/2 cup medium packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup medium packed fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds, raw cashews, or pine nuts (unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ideally boil the almonds or cashews in water for 3-5 minutes. This will allow them to soften and blend easier. If you can't do this step beforehand, just use less nuts.
  • Put all the ingredients in a Cuisinart or blender. My favorite tool is a mini Cuisinart that I got as a gift one year. It may speed things up to pre-chop the basil, greens, and garlic into smaller chunks.
  • Pulse the ingredients to make sure everything mixes evenly. Then blend on high for a few seconds until smooth. It may require opening the Cuisinart and pushing the ingredients off the lid and sides, then re-blending.
  • Pour into a bowl and serve.