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Thai Basil Pesto – and what to do with it!

Thai Basil Pesto – and what to do with it!

The flavor has a pronounced licorice essence and a little spicy kick. So many uses – see my list. Find this wonderful variety at farmers’ markets. Makes a delicious and unique pesto!

Thai Basil Pesto adorns Pasta Squares, Roasted Zucchini and Toasted Pignoli Nuts

Karen’s Thai Basil Pesto includes Thai Basil Leaves, Garlic, Pignoli Nuts, Nutritional Yeast, Salt & Pepper, Dried Thai Chili and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This recipe is Vegan with the addition of Nutritional Yeast – replacing the classic parmesan cheese. Lends a nice cheesy flavor!

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Thai Basil Pesto – and what to do with it!


2 cups Thai basil leaves – washed and dried; lightly packed.

3 medium cloves fresh garlic, peeled

2 tablespoon Pignoli Nuts (pine nuts)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

¼ teaspoon sea salt

⅛ teaspoons fresh cracked pepper

2 pinches dried Thai chile* (or any dried spicy chili) minced before adding to the processor 

½ cup extra virgin olive oil



Simple to make! Most of your time will be spent picking the basil leaves off their stems; washing and drying them.


Add the first 7 ingredients (all but the olive oil) to the bowl of a food processor.
This pesto has a slight spicy taste – feel free to adjust the chile peppers to suit your taste.
Pulse a few time to break down the ingredients.
Measure the olive oil and turn the machine on.


Add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until all is incorporated.
Scrape down with a rubber spatula. Turn machine back on and process to a smooth paste/pesto.


To store:
Keep in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tight seal. Top with a layer of olive oil and place a piece of waxed paper (can use plastic wrap too) on top, pressing down – to stop basil from discoloring.

Uses for Pesto:

A Topping For Pasta – a no-brainer!
I love too to add a dollop of pesto on warm cooked foods, and let it melt in
Compound Butter: Pesto is mixed with butter and flavorings, then chilled and sliced – as it will melt into warm foods
A Flavoring Agent for mayonnaise, yogurt and sour cream
An Addition To salad dressing, vinaigrettes and olive oil
A Base for all your pizza creations instead of tomato based
A Mix-In for Sautéed Vegetables
A Schmear for Bread and great on bruschetta
A Nice Layer of Flavor underneath the skin of chicken before cooking

* Thai Chiles: This spicy thai chile pepper is indispensable in Asian cuisines. Scoville Heat varies in these; some very hot  – a miniature variety of cayenne. So use them sparingly, or substitute with a mild chile if desired.

See BLOG for many more photos and information on this recipe and
15 Types Of Basil to get to know plus Uses for Pesto.

This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.

To say hello, discuss a recipe, share one, or have a comment - I would love to know what you think!

    • Debbie Haynes
    • 18 Aug 2022

    Your recipe sounds delicious. Should the Thai basil leaves be loosely or tightly packed?

    1. Reply

      Hi Debbie,
      Thank you for your email.
      I would say “lightly packed” for the Thai Basil. (I will make a note on the recipe.)
      ~ Hope you enjoy the recipe!

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