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Modified Pesto - Dairy Free and Even Paleo

Updated on August 20, 2013
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I love some good pesto. Unfortunately, I do not always keep it on hand nor do I usually keep all the ingredients on hand to make it. That's why I decided to modify it. I wanted to use it as a spread for zucchini crescent rolls, but did not have all the regular ingredients. The great thing about this modification is that it actually falls under Paleo guidelines, making it a healthy alternative to regular pesto. It's simple and uses ingredients you will more than likely have.

I wanted to share this recipe in hopes of letting you think outside a strict recipe for pesto. It's easy to modify it based on what ingredients you have or dietary restrictions you follow.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

First things first. One thing that does not change about this pesto. You must have basil - and you must have a good bit of it. It's times like these that I love having a basil plant on my porch. I decided I wanted pesto, and I was able to walk outside and pick some fresh to make it.

If you want to make enough pesto for several settings, you will need a whole lot of basil. I only had about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup, so that's what I used. This recipe is so easy though that you do not have to have exact measurements. As you have more or less basil to work with, you can simply increase or decrease the other ingredients accordingly. Generally, I would advise starting with about 2 cups if you want to have some leftover.

Take one medium clove of garlic and half or quarter it. Then into a food processor it goes! I have a small hand-powered chopper that I used this time since I was making a smaller amount.

Now in goes the basil on top of the garlic. Again, you can give your processor a little head start by chopping the basil just a bit. It's not necessary, but I did it.

Season with salt and pepper. I like to guess on the lighter side, knowing that I can always add more later.

Next, you add in tomatoes and olive oil. I used one small grape tomato and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Give the chopper a few good whirls around (or just turn it on for a few seconds if using an automatic processor) until it's mixed well and finely chopped. It will start to look like pesto, but will not be as thick of a paste as normal since it does not have pine nuts or parmesan cheese.

Note: If you are not concerned about dairy, you can also add in Parmesan cheese before processing. I would have added it in, but did not have it this particular time. Also, you can add Walnuts to give it a thicker consistency or pine nuts to make it more traditional. You can modify to fit just about every diet need!


  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup Fresh Basil
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 - 2 Grape Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Food processor - you can either use a small, hand-powered one (shown in pictures) or an automatic one. A small one is better for smaller portions.


  1. Put garlic (halved or quartered) in food processor. Add in basil (also slightly chopped, if desired), salt and pepper to taste, olive oil, and tomato. Process until well mixed and finely chopped. It should be a smooth consistency. That's it!


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