Growing up, pesto was my favorite sauce. I asked for pesto on everything: pasta, bread, a spoon…
This week, my childhood desire for pesto returned. After rooting around my kitchen, I realized I had none of the essentials: fresh basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.
Though as someone who enjoys a good challenge, a few missing ingredients were not going to stop me and I decided to make a few substitutions. The end result was a delicious, Marjoram Pea Pesto! It also happened to only take 5 minutes and be vegan.
Here are the three main substitutions I made to a traditional pesto recipe:
1. Replace the basil with marjoram and peas
With my marjoram plant overgrowing in the garden and fresh peas stocked up in my new chest freezer, I knew I was set on the greens.
2. Replace the pine nuts with almonds
Instead of the traditional (and expensive) pine nuts, I substituted in raw, unsalted almonds. Though, other types of nuts would do to add some additional protein and flavor.
3. Replace the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.
Without cheese on hand, I reached towards my favorite vegan cheese flavor substitute, nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is packed with flavor–a sprinkle of these yellow flakes can transform a bland dish into a rich, umami-filled experience.
To make the Marjoram Pea Pesto, I tossed all these ingredients into my blender. After adding the olive oil and lemon juice, I blended everything on high until smooth.
One hack I learned from my mom is to always keep lemon juice on hand in the freezer. She uses small, plastic salsa containers for single serving portions that can easily stow away in the freezer. A few seconds in the microwave and I have lemon juice to use whenever I need it.
There it is. In just five minutes, a healthy and affordable vegan pesto!
This recipe makes a thicker pesto which is great to spread on crostini or pasta. If you want, you can thin it out with water.
Items used in this post:
- Glass bowls
- Bowl – this IKEA FÄRGRIK dinner set used to come in white
- Serving bowls – also from IKEA, but now discontinued
- Vitamix Blender
- Oil Dispenser
- Cutting board – out of stock IKEA wooden cutting board. This one is similar.
- 1 1/2 cup fresh marjoram (de-stemmed)
- 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Add marjoram, peas, almonds, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil to a high powered blender.
Blend until smooth.
(Optional) Thin pesto out with water to desired consistency.
(Optional) Remove from blender and garnish with a few marjoram leaves and olive oil.
This pesto is a spin on a traditional pesto:
- Instead of pine nuts, I used almonds.
- Instead of basil, I used marjoram and peas.
- Instead of parmesan cheese, I used nutritional yeast.
As pictured: thin pesto with 1/2 cup of water to sauce consistency.
Note, this Marjoram Pea Pesto is heavy on the marjoram and garlic flavors, but that can be reduced by replacing the marjoram with more peas and reducing the cloves of garlic to taste.