The Ingredient Swap You Should Try With Your Next Batch Of Pesto

Pesto is one of those delicious sauces that, simply put, everyone should learn how to make. It's the perfect way to use up an abundance of basil or other herbs, or to add fresh flavor to a ton of different dishes: whether that's pasta, a sandwich, salad, or practically anything else. But while this herbaceous sauce is simple and quick to make, the traditional ingredients, which include cheese, are far from vegan-friendly. Fortunately, the recipe is also very simple to switch up and customize to suit changing tastes, different ingredients, or dietary needs.

When you think of pesto, you're probably imagining pesto Genovese, which calls for basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and a cheese like Grana Padano, Parmesan, or Romano (via Food Network). All told, the cheese traditionally takes up about ⅓ of the recipe's space. While there are plenty of ways to make your own vegan cheeses or plenty of store-bought options to choose from, there is actually a far easier way to swap out the cheese in your pesto recipe, creating a sauce everyone can (and will) enjoy.

Try this ingredient swap for vegan pesto

The Minimalist Baker has a recipe for vegan pesto that includes a few additional ingredients, like lemon juice to add an acidic brightness. The outlet also reccomends adding some water to thin out the sauce, though you can leave it thick and use it as a spread for breads or in recipes that wouldn't benifit from the added liquid. But the real trick is the vegan-friendly swap the recipe makes for cheese.

Instead of using Parmesan, Romano, or Grana Padano cheeses, many vegan pestos (like the one mentined above, and this Food52 recipe) instead call for nutritional yeast. The flakey, golden-colored seasoning adds a rich, savory flavor that will satisfy anyone without any dairy added to the mix, to the point where it's sometimes even called "vegan cheese." It's definitely an ingredient swap to try the next time you make pesto at home, whether you are vegan or not. You just might find the substitution is a welcome change from your go-to pesto recipe.