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Pesto without nuts

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Found out the hard way recently that my daughter is allergic to pine nuts. Actually, all nuts - peanuts and tree nuts. Not violently allergic, where trace amounts throw her into fits, but you get the gist.

So, my favorite quick summer meal is now due for a makeover. If you couldn't use nuts of any sort in pesto, what would you do? I realize that some recipes don't use pine nuts anyhow, so I can certainly just omit them (maybe add a bit more parmesan, I guess). But has anyone ever tried or found a substitute for the nuttiness and creaminess that pine nuts provide?

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  1. could you use sunflower or pumpkin seeds?

    1. I leave them out all the time when I don't have them in the house and hardly notice.

      4 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        Same problem as OP, same solution as Hamster. If you like a little variety, you can throw in some sundried tomatos or kalamata olives with the other pesto ingredients, or sub out the basil for another herb like parsley.

        I know there are toasted soynuts on the market (I think they are akin in texture to corn nuts). I've never tried those in pesto, but they might sub for the pinenuts.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          Exactly! If you need some toastiness... then add soem roasted garlic... It's always great in Pesto!

          --Dommy!

          1. re: Dommy

            I actually use roasted garlic because my husband sometimes has difficulties with raw garlic - tastes wonderful.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I've never used roasted garlic before... I'll definitely try that...

        2. my "basic" pesto is just basil (or sub different green leaf), evoo, garlic & sea salt-- it is simple and good, don't knock it!

          then i "dress it up" for some occasions using nuts and parm, etc, where i'm assuming your recipe is similar to mine. . .

          if you wanted to try something that might sound a little weird, to add a little creaminess to your pesto, try pureeing some soft cooked white beans (might want to pass thru a strainer to make absolutely smooth) and stirring that into your pesto in place of the nuts-- will add body, creaminess, & another (really very mild) flavor layer to your pesto, though maybe it won't give you the "nuttiness" you're looking for. it makes a better pasta sauce-type pesto, if that is your intended use.

          2 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten

            I make lots of basil pesto in the summertime to freeze using your "basic" recipe. I don't add the pine nuts or the parmesan cheese until I'm ready to use it.
            Roasted garlic sounds good too. Have to try that.

            1. re: soupkitten

              based on soupkitten's comment and on some of the comments on the Hummus thread, roasted or otherwise toasted garbanzo's might work too.

            2. Cooking Light has an edamame-cilantro pesto they use for their salmon burgers that I found delicious and probably can stand up to a change out with a traditional basil. Here is the recipe: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec.... No nuts, but you will have to use fish sauce. (As a side note- I didn't have the green curry on hand, but it still turned out well)