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Healthy basil pesto
4.58 from 7 votes

Best Basil Pesto (and the healthiest)

This basil pesto recipe is certainly the best tasting and the most nourishing recipe about! It's a great way to include healthy greens in your families diet. 
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Servings: 1 cup


  • 1 clove/s garlic -peeled and crushed
  • 50 g parmesan cheese -finely grated (dairy free version below)
  • 1 bunch/s fresh basil leaves
  • 2 stem/s kale (leaves torn from the stems)
  • 30 g sunflower seeds (¼ cup) lightly toasted
  • 30 g raw cashew nuts (¼ cup) lightly toasted
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper -to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil -extra virgin
  • ½ lemon/s juice, zest optional

Optional Extras

  • 1 red chilli/s (or even half a red capsicum for a vitamin C boost)


  • You can make this in a mortar and pestle but I prefer to use my Thermomix (or any good food processor will do the job) as I like a textured pesto.  I tend to use the pulse (turbo) function so I can control the texture I'm after.  If you like a course pesto like me, process less, for a smooth pesto, process more.
  • You can grate and crush your parmesan and garlic by hand or in your food processor. Thermomix 10 seconds, speed 6.
  • Add the basil and kale. Pulse until almost chopped. Thermomix 2-3 pulses.
  • Then add the cashews and sunflower seeds. A couple more pulses should see it combined nicely. Thermomix 2-3 pulses.
  • Lastly, season well and mix with your lemon juice and EV olive oil. Thermomix 10 seconds, reverse speed 3.


  • Drizzle with a little olive oil to seal it and prevent it discolouring.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Can also be frozen in a airtight container or even in ice-cube trays (and then cubes put into an airtight container once frozen).


Dairy-free and vegan

Omit the parmesan. I'd suggest adding a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast for cheese flavour and even a handful of ground macadamia nuts to replace the parmesan, but that's optional too.

Replace the kale with spinach

Which is also very nutritious and I think has a much milder flavour than kale.


Replace the cashews with the same amount of sunflower seeds.

Ways to eat it...

  • As a delicious, nourishing dip. It often features in my kids lunch boxes (the nut free version) with raw veggie sticks.
  • Mixed through pasta or zucchini noodles (for a grain and gluten free option). Add a little extra olive oil to the pesto to coat the pasta evenly and I also often toss through some chopped tomato to create a special meal. A pesto noodle salad is great for school lunch boxes.
  • With Quinoa or brown rice for added flavour and nutrition.
  • Use as a dressing to liven up steamed veggies or create a special salad. Mix one tablespoon of pesto with one tablespoon of olive oil and a little extra lemon juice (if you like) and mix through the vegies or salad leaves.
  • In a sandwich or on toast (with avocado - yum). Add a poached egg for a protein hit!
  • Spread over grilled haloumi.
  • In a tuna vegetable bake or a casserole.
  • Over grilled or BBQ'd meat or fish.
  • On top of a slice of tomato and slice of buffalo mozzarella i.e. Caprese style.
  • On pizza.
  • In a jacket potato or mixed through diced potatoes for an exciting potato salad
  • I could go on and on here…you are only limited by your imagination. Any Mediterranean flavoured meal will suit a blob of this nourishing Basil pesto.


Share how you eat pesto. Post a comment below, it's simple.