the taste space

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on August 2, 2010


With an abundance of basil on my balcony, I immediately thought of making a pesto sauce.  I always thought pesto meant basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese but I was wrong.  There are so many kinds of pestos, with so many variations on the herbs, nuts, added vegetables and fruit!  I looked through many recipes and was intrigued to try a basil-almond pesto from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley because I love almonds and it didn’t call for cheese.  No pine nuts either, which can be a bit pricey.

With so many variations, what exactly is a pesto? It is a made with mixed herbs and David Lebovitz explains that pesto is derived from the Italian meaning ‘to be pounded’, and to be authentic, must be pounded with a mortar and pestle. Phish, I have a new (for me, it is from the 1970’s!) food processor and it makes a wonderful whipped basil spread. :)

I liked this pesto, as it had a bite from the lemon and the almonds were a bit sweeter than pine nuts. The hardest part is now to decide what to do with it!

Other different kinds of pestos:

Rucola Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto from Chocolate & Zucchini
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto from Eats Well With Others
Kale Almond Pesto from Elana’s Pantry
Roasted Eggplant Pesto from Fat Free Vegan
Basil-Peanut Pesto from Steamy Kitchen
Asparagus Pesto from Simply Recipes
Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Pesto from Cookin’ Canuck
Green Olive Pesto from Gourmet
Pea and Mint Pesto from Closet Cooking

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Lynne at Cafe Lynnlu and to this week’s Weekend Wellness and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

1 1/2 cups whole almonds, peeled and lightly toasted
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, grind the almonds to a meal.
2. Add the basil, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest and puree (don’t worry if it doesn’t puree completely at this point; it will have a change after you add the olive oil). Slowly add the oil and process until smooth. Blend in salt and adjust seasoning to taste.
3. Serve at once. Cover and leftover pesto with a film of olive oil in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 2 cups

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17 Responses

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  1. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said, on August 2, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    What an amazing looking pesto. I am a big fan of pesto sauce out of all pasta sauces, so a visual treat for me, thanks :)

  2. Lynne said, on August 7, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    I love the lemon zest addition. Thanks for joining in WHB#245.

  3. Ricki said, on June 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Love the almonds in this! A great extra hit of protein. This will taste fantastic on some pasta! :)

  4. […] 1/2 cup your favourite pesto (try this lemon almond pesto!) […]

  5. […] I sort of combined two recipes that I found, but it’s based mostly on this one. […]

  6. Lynn M said, on January 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    This tasted wonderful. I liked it much better than the classic recipe using pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

    Having enough basil for the full recipe takes a lot more than you’d think. I bought a 4 oz. package of fresh basil, thinking it would be quite enough. By the time I picked the leaves off from the steams, I only had a scant one cup of packed basil leaves left to make half the recipe. I ate the pesto on gluten-free Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers from Safeway. Scrumptious.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on January 18, 2012 at 12:54 AM

      Thanks for the feedback, Lynn. Glad to hear you liked it! I agree that you consume so much basil with pesto. I remember picking my plant completely clean… although then it grows back so it is all ok. ;)

  7. […] choice of sauce -I used miso gravy but any tomato, white or pesto sauce will […]

  8. Jade said, on April 25, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    I was just at a restaurant in Canmore, Alberta and ordered almond pesto salmon and LOVED it. So I figured that I could make the pesto myself, and found this recipe! This is DELICIOUS and even better than the restaurants. :) Thank you for sharing.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 25, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      Hi Jade, I am so happy to hear this was even better than the resto’s version! It sounds super delicious paired with salmon. Yum! :)

  9. Drew said, on July 8, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    This is the best pesto I have made in a long time. I find the parmesan/pinenut version okay, but kind of bland and heavy. The lemon here add lightness that I don’t usually associate with pesto, and almonds and garlic together are very tasty. I doubled the garlic, but I am sort of a fiend that way.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on July 8, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      Drew, thank you so much for letting me know how you enjoyed the pesto! I am completely with you – not really a fan of the really oily pestos, so this one is great with the brightness from the lemon. :)

  10. Vegenista said, on August 5, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    […] a quick & easy dinner tonight I used the Lemon Basil Almond Pesto I made yesterday & tossed it with whole wheat spaghetti & steamed green beans that were […]

  11. […] Apple Strudel (my Oma would be proud), Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing, Raw Tacos, and Lemon Basil Almond Pesto. Only one post from 2012 was equally as popular (#1 below) and it wasn’t the one with the […]

  12. Inspired Soup & Sandwich said, on February 10, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    […] starting to lose its luster, so this was the perfect time to finish it off! I found a recipe for a Lemon Basil Almond Pesto  & thought that would work […]

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  14. Chitra Jagadish said, on August 2, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    Lovely Recipe ! The lemon makes all the difference….sounds awesome…


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