I am from New Jersey. The northern NYC suburbs part where the Sopranos was filmed. In my part of Jersey there are Italian restaurants, pizzarias and steakhouses in that order. I grew up on Italian food.

And pesto needs cheese. It just does. I have made other people’s dairy free pesto recipes but they are just not sufficient for this Jersey Girl. And Living Without annoyed me because they have a dairy-free nut-free pesto recipe that tells you to use your favorite dairy free parmesan. There may be another brand, but I know of exactly one brand (Parma! from Sister River Foods) and they use nutritional yeast, salt, flavorings and WALNUTS.


So with basil in season and plenty of 100 degree days, I thought I would give this recipe a shot. I have not been too keen on testing anything that requires that I use my oven.

2 c fresh basil leaves washed and dried
2/3 cup evoo
1/3 cup daiya mozzarella
2 to 3 big cloves fresh raw garlic (this is all about how much garlic you like. I used 8 small cloves but I am from New Jersey.
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (mine were roasted and salted)

Small food processor
Measuring cups and spoons
Jars for storing finished pesto.

Measure basil leaves by packing them whole into the measuring cup then rinsing and drying them. They do not have to be perfectly dry. I usually drain them in a colander for a few minutes while I get everything else together and then I dry them between paper towels.
Put basil leaves, olive oil, sunflower seeds and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor.
Mix until the leaves, seeds and garlic are pretty pulverized (this is a bit to taste, some people like a really smooth pesto, I like to see tiny shreds of basil in mine. I just check every 30 seconds when I push it down.
You will get about 1 cup of pre-pesto from this. Some people like it a bit oilier and you cann add more olive oil to taste.
You can freeze pre-pesto and then thaw it when you need it. Four ounce baby food jars hold exactly half a cup. You can use other jars as well, just make sure to leave some room for expansion. Jars do freeze well as long as you don’t overstuff them.
When ready to use, take 1/2 cup of the thawed pesto and mix in a food processor (or with a stick blender) with 1/6th cup of Daiya mozzarella. This does not need to be precise, just half of 1/3 cup. This will make it saltier if you were wondering why it lacked oomph before.
Salt to taste