Easy 6 ingredient pesto salad dressing made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. Make this for any green or grain salad this summer! It's essentially a lighter version of pesto, minus the parm, and is just right for seasonal basil.

Add this recipe to your staple vinaigrettes and dressings along with shallot vinaigrette and use to top all of your favourite vegan salads. Pesto dressing is great for dipping sourdough bread, too.

A small glass jar of green sauce labeled pesto dressing.
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Ingredients

The main ingredient here is basil, so be sure to choose fresh leaves from plants that haven't gone to seed for the best tasting basil dressing.

Pesto dressing ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Pine nuts: use raw, unsalted pine nuts. Sub cashews, sunflower seeds, or even hemp hearts for a nut free version.
  • Basil: if you don't have quite enough basil, stretch it with a bit of fresh spinach. Some thin stalks can be used here along with the leaves.
  • Garlic: increase the garlic if you like a lot of that allium spice or use a very small or half clove if you want less.

Step by Step

Pesto dressing steps 1 and 2, mixing.

Step 1: add all of the ingredients to a food processor or small blender.

Step 2: mix on high speed until completely smooth.

Top Tips

  • Add sweetener: if the basil or olive oil are too bitter, and they often can be, add a teaspoon of agave or honey to balance it out.
  • Not just for salad: try serving this with marinated olives, over tomatoes, on sandwiches, or in panzanella salad.
  • Use a small mixer: this makes a fairly small batch, less than a cup, so standard blenders and some food processors will be too big to blend it effectively. A mini processor, bullet blender, or immersion blender are all perfect.

How to Store

Storage: keep basil vinaigrette in a sealed container, like a glass jar as pictured, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezing: freeze for up to 2 months in an airtight container, and thaw in the fridge before serving. Note that the colour might change when it thaws.

Green salad with tomatoes and cucumber, close up.

FAQ

What is pesto vinaigrette made out of?

A traditional basil pesto dressing is made from fresh basil, pine nuts, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. To make it into a vinaigrette, more liquid is added (olive oil) so that it can be poured easily.

Is pesto sauce healthy?

Like most things, it's best in moderation, but the base ingredients are all good. Basil is fairly high in vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and iron, and pine nuts and olive oil contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

What kind of basil is best for pesto?

The most common type of basil used for pesto is Genovese basil, or sweet basil. Other types can be used too but they can be rather bitter.

More Staple Recipes

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Recipe

A small glass jar of green sauce labeled pesto dressing.
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5 from 2 votes

Pesto Salad Dressing

Easy 6 ingredient pesto salad dressing made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. Make this for any green or grain salad this summer!
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Sophie

Equipment

  • Small food processor or blender
  • mason jar for storage

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves lightly packed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice about half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt to taste

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients to a small blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend on high speed until very smooth, then taste and season if needed.
    ½ cup fresh basil leaves, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts, ½ cup good quality olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • If the dressing is bitter, mix in a teaspoon of agave or honey to balance it out. Serve immediately or store for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Notes

Optional: add a pinch of black pepper and up to 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 236kcal

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