Cooking with Basil Essential Oil - Practical Pesto

Have you ever made pesto with fresh basil? Were you disappointed by the teeny tiny amount of luscious pesto that ALL THAT BASIL produced?! If you're like most of the home chefs I work with, you know what I'm talking about.

What if I told you there was a way to make amazing basil pesto AND pack in extra nutrition by using dark leafy greens like spinach, baby kale, etc. Would you try it?

How about a creative application for things like carrot tops, beet greens, bitter dandelion greens, or collards and chard? You're going to love this trick and essential oil recipe!

The word pesto comes from the Italian 'pestare', meaning to pound, or crush, but there is no limit to what wholesome ingredients can play in the pesto party. Traditionally pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. Some versions swap sun-dried tomatoes for fresh basil, others are olive based - similar to a tapenade. Removing the notion that all pesto is basil pesto opens your plant-based palette to a world of delicious possibilities.

So let's dive in and create a pesto that's both nutrient dense and helps us utilize all of the parts of our food! #nowastechef

Begin with a sizable amount of greens - a few big handfuls worth, or whatever fits in the food processor. Pulse this down, and add more, repeating this process until you are happy with the amount of greens that are in the processor bowl, or until you've used up all of the green goodness you are now proudly repurposing as a new no waste chef ;) If this becomes difficult, add a little olive oil or water to help get the mixture moving.

The benefit of breaking down the greens first, is that it gives you a better idea of how much seasoning is needed - like salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, or essential oil.

If I were making this recipe, which I do quite often, and had about a cup of finely pulsed greens in my food processor bowl, I would add one clove of pressed garlic, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 1 t of lemon juice, 1/4 t of salt, 1/4 cup of nuts, and one drop of basil essential oil (added at the very end once all ingredients are thoroughly combined). As the ingredients are added, more water or olive oil should be added to achieve that traditional texture and consistency.

Adding the essential oil last helps to maintain its integrity, and prevent it from getting all banged around in the process of grinding the nuts. Sometimes I'll switch it up and use cilantro, rosemary, or oregano essential oil instead! But use caution and be careful when dropping the oil from the bottle - a little goes a long way! I find it helpful with new users to first drop the oil onto a spoon, or recommend using a clean toothpick to extract the flavor until they have reached the desired flavor.

From here, you can slather this pesto on ANYTHING! Great on grilled or roasted veggies, a sauce for veggie burgers, marinade for jackfruit or eggplant, base for another sauce or dressing like a vegan aioli, and of course - tossed with plant-based protein rich pasta!

Hungry for more fun and flavorful plant-based recipes with essential oils? Grab your copy of my cookbook, available at

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