I noticed the other day that my lemon balm plant had practically exploded with new growth and realised that I should probably do something with it! Now, it is a plant most well known for making delicious tea that is good for soothing anxiety (If you want to have it as a tea you can literally just bung some fresh leaves in some boiling water) but I wanted to try something else. I decided to make some pesto with it as the fresh, zingy lemony-ness of the plant is just perfect for adding a summery twist to your pasta.
As well as being a fab, quick pasta sauce, this dairy-free pesto is also great spread on toast, used as a dip with bread sticks or for smothering some vegan ‘chicken’.
It can be tricky to find both vegan AND soy-free pesto in the shops so sometimes it is easier to just make your own! Lemon balm grows crazy fast and basil is one of the plants I’ve managed not to kill while growing it on my kitchen windowsill (although I have learnt that you should water from underneath the pot, because the stems can rot if you water from the top!) and I just bought a crappy £1 plant from the supermarket!
As well as lemon balm and basil you’ll need some nuts of some sort, I just wanged in some generic ‘chopped mixed nuts’, but by all means pick something more traditional like pine nuts, cashews or walnuts. I’ve also used good old squeezy-garlic because I’m lazy and some oil and lemon juice.
** Just a note here that consuming large amounts of lemon balm is not good if you have low thyroid function, but so long as you’re not devouring entire plants, you’re probably fine. If you have any concerns it might be best to consult your dr or a qualified herbalist.
Vegan Lemon Balm Pesto (gluten free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan) Makes 1 jar.
- Approx 2 cups of fresh lemon balm (I’d say just use the leaves as the stalks can be a bit woody and that upsets my blender!)
- Approx 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of chopped mixed nuts
- Squidge of squeezy garlic to taste
- 1/4 cup oil (I used rapeseed oil, you can sub for olive or another of your choice – you might also need a bit more, depending on the blender or food processor you use, to ‘get it going’)
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice to taste
- Salt and/or black pepper to taste (optional)
- If storing for later, a glass jar similar to mine
Basically chuck all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whizz until pesto-y! A food processor would be best, but we only have a blender and I manage, you might just have to pulse and then poke the ingredients down the sides a couple of times.
If you’re not using the pesto straight away, or only using some of it, pop it in a jar and just drizzle a touch more oil over the top to stop it going brown. It can stay in the fridge for about a week. You can also freeze the pesto, which is a great way to be able to enjoy the summer bounty of your garden in the winter too!
Want to use more ingredients from your garden? How about this Gluten Free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake? Or Rhubarb & Ginger Chia Jam? You could also check out these Courgette Brownies or Raspberry Brownies!
Are you looking for ideas for Plastic Free July? I’m sharing some of the things I do/use over on my Instagram Stories and I’ll add things to a highlight for you to look at later!
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