nut and dairy-free pesto

It’s no wonder Italians are so happy– basil is (apparently) a natural serotonin booster.  You know what?  The way I feel right now eating this nut, dairy, and gluten-free pesto pasta, I sure believe it!


For anyone who doesn’t suffer from a deadly nut allergy like me and other nut bubble children, they probably did not know that pretty much all pesto is made with nuts, be it pine nuts (most common) or walnuts (a little bit more gourmet).

Neither, however, are gourmet if they can take your life.  Which is exactly what “normal” pesto has the potential to do to me.  That is not even considering the fact that the gluten and dairy in the pasta would send me into a digestive coma before I could reach the tragic finish line.  Morbid?  Yes.  True?  Tear drop: yes yes.


So, since I did not feel like going into anaphylactic shock tonight, but had a beckoning pesto-pasta tooth, I decided, it’s time to skip the “inspiration” this evening and go straight for the full monty: Presto! Pesto FULL RECIPE and backstory.

My last experience with pesto:

I remember the first time I met my ex-boyfriend’s mother.  She was quite the gourmet officienado, and prepared a beautiful soup and sandwich lunch for the three of us.  Upon biting into the delectable french baquette that surrounded the turkey and leafy greens, I tasted the earthy melange of basil, olive oil, and sundried tomato pesto.  Cease fire– PESTO?!  This pesto actually had WALNUTS, which are one of my worst allergies.  I immediately broke out in hives in my mouth, had to stab my thigh with my epipen, and, needless to say, caused a tremendous amount of unwanted turmoil upon first encounter with the mothership of my man.  Maybe that’s why he’s an ex now…


Have no fear!  Here is a way to enjoy the succulence of pesto without breaking a sweat, breaking into hives, or breaking up with your boyfriend.  😉

nut-free pesto

Serves 2-4
Prep time 5 minutes
Dietary Corn Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Nut Free, Soy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Condiment, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Serve Hot
Region Italian


  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup hemp or pumpkin seed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 tbs. to top for storage)
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste


Step 1 In food processor or blender, pulse together fresh basil and garlic until coarsely blended.
Step 2 Pulse in seeds.  Mix until blended.
Step 3 Slowly pour in olive oil, scraping down the sides with a spatula as you add.
Step 4 Add onion powder and salt, and pulse until just blended.  Pepper to taste.*
Step 5 To serve immediately, blend in the extra tablespoon olive oil.  Cook gluten-free pasta according to the packaged directions, drain, and stir in that pesto goodness!

*To store:  Skip step 4, and scoop basil pesto into airtight container, top with extra tablespoon of olive oil, cover, and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freezer for up to 3 months.  To serve, thaw out to room temperature, add cheese, blend, and enjoy!


7 thoughts on “nut and dairy-free pesto

  1. Erica, I love your stories along with your wonderfully written out recipes. Your pix together with them make me want to eat everything right now!
    I am so glad I didn’t end up killing you with my own store bought pesto!
    Ever since, I only make my own, I call them drizzles and they go on everything.

  2. I tried this recipe with flax seeds and it’s delicious! The only recommendation I would make would be to grind the flax seeds in a coffee grinder prior to putting them into the cuisinart or blender. Enjoy!

  3. Just made this pesto! It is so good! I struggle to make things for my whole family sometimes. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. My mother is definitely in a bubble; allergic to various fruits/vegetables, shellfish, nuts, dairy, etc. My husband is allergic to soy. Naturally, I run into issues with what to make that works for everyone; esp. in the area of substitutes. SO I went looking for a pesto that would be good for the whole family. Made yours just now in preparation for Easter dinner and it is SO YUMMY! Thank you!

  4. As a nut allergy sufferer (walnuts are my worst too!), newbie vegan and paired with a 27 year long wish to try pesto this is the most awesome find! Thank you so much!! SO glad I stumbled across your website!!

    1. Izzy! I’m so glad you found it and I hope that the recipes here help you enjoy more of the food you thought you couldn’t. 🙂 bisous!

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