How to Make Pesto: 2 Great Recipes for Vegans & Meat-Eaters

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces for just about every meal. It goes great with salmon, you can add it to every sandwich, and even steamed veggies are immediately transformed into a tasty meal with the addition of pesto. 

I’ve also incorporated pesto into my taco recipe, which might sound odd but it was an inspiration from my previous employer, True Food Kitchen (see their cilantro-pumpkin seed pesto recipe).

More True Food Recipes?

As a previous employee I know one or two 😉

Oh, and don’t even get me started with Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale Pesto on some red lentil pasta. My absolute favorite meal AND it’s packed with protein. 

As I dream of that meal, I am faced with a dilemma: I live in Kenya now and Trader Joe’s doesn’t exist (it’s tragic). The store bought pesto is imported, making it packed with preservatives and overly expensive. 

But since an entire bag of fresh basil goes for about 50 cents (an Africa perk), I’ve set out on an expedition to experiment with a variety of recipes, some vegan and others not. After a lot of basil, mess, and much deliberation, I’ve managed to narrow down my two favorite recipes, both very simple and absolutely fresh!

First: Vegan Basil-Pistachio Pesto Recipe via Connoisseurus Veg

In this recipe, pine nuts are swapped out for pistachios, which I’m especially a huge fan of since pine nuts are nutty expensive, especially in Kenya. 

Also, if you buy roasted pistachios for this recipe, it really adds an additional flavor!


2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
4 fresh garlic cloves 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (really up to your judgement)

So basically just throw all of those ingredients into a blender or food processor and you’ll have ultra fresh pesto that’ll last you around 5 or so days in the fridge.

Second: Non-Vegan Basil Pesto Recipe via Mama Beck’s Kitchen

This is my mother’s recipe. Although we’ve never measured anything, you can use the same proportions as the vegan recipe with a few slight adjustments.

Mama Beck’s Recipe

As Mama Beck prefers pine nuts, swap out the pistachios for their slightly bougier cousins, then add parmesan (around ⅓ of a cup). My mom also adds a bit of lemon juice to her recipe as it keeps the pesto from spoiling and doesn’t change the flavor much (if anything, we actually like it better, but it’s up to your discretion).

Whichever pesto you prefer, throw it on any lunch, dinner dish…or even breakfast. Omelettes with pesto are never a bad idea. 

However you use it and whichever country you may currently reside in, enjoy!  

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