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Pea Shoot Pesto is the light, bright green springtime sauce you need! This version is vegan and gluten-free and perfect for pasta, sandwiches, pizza and more.
Everyone loves classic basil pesto. But when spring rolls around, there’s a new kind of green sauce on my mind: Pea Shoot Pesto.
This refreshing spin on the Italian classic is light, creamy, full of tender pea flavor, and fully plant-based.
How to Make Pea Shoot Pesto
The easiest way to make pesto at home is with a food processor. However, the more traditional method is with a mortar and pestle, if you don’t have one or just don’t have the time, a food processor, or even a blender will do the trick.
To make this quick sauce, simply add everything to the processor and blend until smooth. You can adjust the texture to your liking by adding more or less olive oil. More oil will give you a super fluffy, almost airy texture and a richer olive flavor. Less oil will create a less smooth but more pea-flavored pesto.
Here’s what you need to bring this springy sauce to life:
- Pea shoots. These are only available fresh and locally to me in the spring, as they’re harvested before the full pea plants come into bloom. They’re incredibly delicate and surprisingly flavorful despite their small size.
- Basil leaves. Because this is pesto, after all, you can’t leave out the fresh basil!
- Nuts. You can use any soft nut you like, such as cashews, macadamia nuts or pistachios. Pine nuts will also work as the more traditional pesto ingredient.
- Lemon juice for brightness.
- Garlic. Because you can’t have pesto without fresh garlic!
- Nutritional yeast. This is the vegan swap for parmesan in pesto and it truly adds delicious cheesy flavor without any dairy.
- Olive oil. Use a nice-tasting olive oil for this, as you will get the flavor from the oil in the sauce.
pesto tends to lose its bright, vibrant color if it’s left around for too long. To preserve it, you can transfer the pesto to an airtight container and cover the top with a thin coating of olive oil. This prevents the oxidization that causes basil leaves to turn brown or black in the cold (that’s why you should always keep your basil at room temperature, not in the fridge).
Then, you can keep your pea shoot pesto in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months. If you freeze pesto, let it thaw on the counter for a few hours or better, in the fridge overnight before using. You want to avoid heating the pesto in the microwave or anywhere, as this will discolor the sauce.
How to Use Pesto Sauce
There are about a million delicious ways to put this homemade vegan pea pesto to use! Here are some of my favorite dishes to add pesto to:
- Pizzas and flatbreads
- Sandwiches, especially this Vegan Cucumber Tempeh Sandwich
- Pasta, of course!
- Other grains, including rice, farro, and quinoa
- Turn it into a salad dressing by thinning it out with water or lemon juice
- Spread it on toast
- Add it to a cheeseboard
What is your favorite way to eat more pesto? Leave me a comment and I’ll give it a try!
More Vegan Recipes for Spring
- Radiant Radish Bowl with Tamari Citrus Vinaigrette (vegan, gluten free)
- Asparagus Zucchini Soup (vegan, paleo, oil-free)
- Vegan Scallops with Miso Garlic Butter Pasta
If you make this Pea Shoot Pesto, be sure to tag me on Instagram, I LOVE seeing your creations!
Pea Shoot Pesto (vegan, gluten free)
- 1 1/2 cup pea shoots
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup cashews macadamia nuts or pistachios
- juice of half a lemon
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor, pulse ingredients until broken down. It's okay if there is a little texture to the mixture.
- Stream in additional olive oil as needed to achieve desired consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.