Pesto is one of my absolute favorite foods - not just for pasta, but for using as a dip for veggies, a spread on toast, or as a sauce on the side for various meats. It is versatile and bright, and in most recipes, FULL of cheese.
Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, pine nuts and either parmesan or pecorino cheese. While I'm not denying that the traditional way is delicious, it just has too much dairy for me to eat regularly and feel good - that's where this recipe comes in, which is completely vegan and dairy-free. Instead of cheese, I use (drumroll please)... miso! I know what you're thinking - miso?! In an Italian pesto recipe? I know, I know. But guess what? It adds the salty, umami flavor that cheese provides.
I learned this miso trick years ago from one of my old roommates (shoutout to Maile!), who had a similar recipe from a Costco item, and I've been modifying my own version ever since. While I have nothing against pine nuts, I don't keep them on hand in my pantry, so found myself using - and loving - a mix of raw almonds or walnuts.
While any miso will do, I prefer to use the one that I keep on hand in my fridge at all times by Mister Miso Organic. It is certified gluten-free, and actually made from chickpeas instead of soy, making it totally soy-free. You can find it at most grocery stores - I bought mine at Whole Foods - and it lasts for over a year in the fridge.
Yields 4 oz, enough for about 2 lbs pasta
1 1/2 C. basil, packed
1 TBSP miso (chickpea is my fave)
3 cloves raw garlic
3/4 C. raw walnuts or almonds (or a mix of both!)
1 TBSP good quality extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste (I used about 2 pinches)
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste, adding more salt and olive oil as-needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.