Lemon Pistachio Pesto

Welcome to my first week of unemployment freedom. I have got to stop saying “unemployment,” because I don’t view it that way at all. I have so many things I want to do…not the least of which is planning for my next step as a lawyer. I’ve got lots of other stuff going on as well and suspect I might be being busier than I was while working. This “other stuff” would include this blog, which I’ve really gotten hooked on. I was actually recently (before I knew I’d soon be out of work) complaining to my boyfriend about how difficult it would be to photograph my recipes in daylight as we go into fall. No longer a problem! And on that note, I’m starting to rephotograph recipes from old posts that need a makeover. I got started this weekend with my roasted garlic hummus. The recipe and post are the same – just nicer photos. Oh, and the bowl is new to the post as well. That would be from last spring’s pottery class. I just started up the fall session (another big part of my newfound freedom) so hopefully I’ll have lots of new pretty pieces to showcase my food. I won’t bombard you guys via posts with notifications of my new photos. If you’re interested in my photo makeovers I’ll be giving updates via Facebook.
As for this recipe, pesto and I have quite a history together. We first met around 1988 at the Spaghetti Factory in San Diego. Kids menu. No, seriously. I was there with my family and ordered a salad, little veggie lover that I was. For whatever reason, when given the option of several dressings, I chose pesto. I still can’t figure out why. It must have sounded cool. “Pesto!” I mean, I’m sure I’d never been introduced to the stuff before, and I can’t imagine I asked what it was and my eight year old self was able to make a decision based on “an emulsion of fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts and garlic.” No. I would not have gotten that one.

Anyhow, that version of pesto was a salad dressing version. Creamy, some sort of cousin to what I eat today, but in any event, I was in love. I had mom hunt me down some pesto at the supermarket. Cardini’s was just about all you could get back then, but that worked for me. I proceeded to eat it on everything. Salads, pasta, chicken fingers, and eventually fake chicken fingers. At some point I found a recipe and attempted to make my own. For my first attempt I used dried basil, not knowing there was a difference (I was probably twelve). No good.

basil I finally figured out that the dried basil was what was causing my problems. I followed a few recipes for conventional pesto and continued to be unsatisfied. I was looking for something with a little more tang. That’s where the lemon juice came in. This vegan version of the classic also includes nutritional yeast in place of parmesan, and pistachios in place of pine nuts, just because I prefer the texture. Added bonus: pistachios are cheaper.

I hope you make this and are immediately inspired to put it on everything, like I was. Just in case you’re not, I’ll help you figure something out later this week.


Lemon Pistachio Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauce
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • 1½ cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • juice of one lemon (about 3 tbsp.)
  1. Place pistachio, basil and garlic in food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil, nutritional yeast and lemon juice.
  3. Process until smooth.

pesto top


  1. says

    I hope to enjoy “freedom” sometime in the next few months, ha ha! Fingers crossed I’ll be able to leave my job and blog full-time. :) I didn’t know you were a lawyer! Do you know what you’re going to do?

    This pesto looks delicious! Pesto is my favorite food; I love trying different variations of it. Pinning to make later!

    • says

      This was actually a post from last year. I just shared it again because I updated the photos, which is kind of funny because I just looked at the post and realized it included an announcement that I was going to start doing that!

      I actually ended up starting my own law practice, so I’ve been doing that and slowly devoting more and more time to the blog. It’s been a crazy year, but I am enjoying more freedom. Full time blogging is definitely something I’m interested in pursuing as well :)

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