Summer Picnic Pesto

End of summer brings a wealth of basil--rich, green, and shiny. Which, of course, spells P-E-S-T-O.

I threw together this little pesto last week, and paired it with some chopped up tomatoes and baguette slices for a start-of-semester picnic. It was a hit.

Just because the other food at this potluck picnic was so beautiful, I want to showcase some of it before sharing my pesto recipe, below.  Zucchini fries, grilled vegetables, three-bean salad:

Bean and greens salad in a yogurt dressing; couscous salad; a mexican salad with veggie crumbles; and delicious baked beans! A feast, to be sure.

This little pesto of mine was made from basil from our garden, and whatever else I had on hand.  Because we didn't have any parmesan in the house, I looked up a recipe in the awesome vegan cookbook, the Veganomicon, and modified it according to available ingredients and my taste. Hope you enjoy it!

Vegan Basil-Cilantro Pesto

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1/3 cup almonds
2 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor and blend until it forms a thick paste, scraping down sides as needed.  
  2. While food processor runs, slowly add olive oil, until pesto is smooth.
  3. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. In general, I've found it's best to go light on the vinegar, salt, and oil, as it's always easier to add more than to try to remove it.
  4. This makes enough for about one baguette's worth, but pesto freezes easily if you want to double or triple the recipe and put the rest away for a rainy day. One trick lots of people use is to spoon the pesto into ice cube trays, and then pop out the pesto cubes into a ziploc bag, for easier portioning later.


  1. Yeah! I make my own alterna-pesto with perilla leaves in lieeu of basil and sunflower/pumpkin seeds in lieu of cheese. It's wonderful.


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