Plant-Powered Pesto

Published: July 10, 2019

Katherine Takayasu, MD, MBA, Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness

A vegan pesto? Yes! I promise you won’t miss the Parmesan. In fact, I served this without reservation to my foodie friend, who was shocked to learn it didn’t have cheese.

Basil and lemon make up this Plant-Powered Pesto recipeMost pesto recipes are really heavy, but what about a pesto that’s tasty, light, and . . . . wait for it . . . fights infections?! With all the colds and flu bugs coming, this is the perfect time of year to introduce this recipe into your life.

Aside from being plant-powered, this pesto features fresh oregano in addition to traditional basil. Both basil and oregano have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-yeast and anti-mold properties. Oregano, in particular, has such strong infection-fighting properties that many of my patients take Oil of Oregano in liquid or capsule form to help with infections . . . and it works! One of the most common uses for Oil of Oregano is in battling intestinal bugs including righting the wrongs of dysbiosis (imbalance) in the intestinal microbiome.

If you can’t find fresh oregano, no worries. Just use basil. You’ll still love this recipe. Don’t have pine nuts? No big deal. Use walnuts instead. Toasting the nuts definitely makes the flavor more robust, but if you’re short on time it’s not necessary.

At my house, we use this pesto on everything from homemade pasta (seriously, my husband’s homemade pasta is THE BEST and one of my favorite gluten indulgences) to zucchini noodles to sautéed vegetables or atop roasted chicken. It also makes a delicious dip for crudités. I always convince my kids to eat pesto by telling them it’s monster sauce. Ha!



  • 2 cups packed fresh basil, fresh
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano, optional
  • 4 Tbsp EVOO
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 Tbsp pine nuts, roasted
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1-2 Tbsp water (if needed)


Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency, about 20 seconds. Add water as needed to thin the sauce.





Katherine Wehri Takayasu, M.D., M.B.A. practices Integrative Medicine combining traditional Western medicine with evidence-based complementary modalities at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut. She helps patients heal naturally with acupuncture, mind-body medicine, botanical medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle optimization. She is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian and teaches the next generation of doctors about healing the whole patient mind, body, and spirit. For her own well-being, Dr. Katie practices what she preaches. She engages in yoga and meditation regularly and enjoys experimenting with plant-based cuisine in the kitchen.

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