Garden To Table Pesto

Garden To Table Pesto

Northern Italy is one of the most stunning places in the world and it’s also a place where some of our favorite foods have originated. Genoa is a small city in Northern Italy where a tasty sauce called pesto was born. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in a quaint city called Parma, which is a culinary delight and not far from Genoa. One thing I learned from my time there is that food is a beautiful part of Italian life, where cooking and eating are valued, done slowly and enjoyed with family. I think we have a lot to learn about life from this way of cooking, eating and living. We love bringing pieces of the Italian way of life into our home!

Pesto: A Versatile Superfood

One way we have done that is to add pesto into our regular rotation of foods.  We mix it up a little and have experimented with different flavors to bring our health goals and love of food together. Read on to learn some of our favorite combinations and ways to have pesto meet any of your dietary needs and culinary desires! 

Traditional pestos are made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan. You can easily make this traditional pesto vegan by skipping the parmesan and add a few extra pine nuts or walnuts instead.

However the possibilities are endless! You don’t need to stop at just having basil pesto, although we definitely keep that on rotation in our home as well. Here you will find a specific recipe for a plant based, vegan and gluten free pesto. I also will give you several ideas on how to make a cheap, easy, healthy superfood pesto, getting some of your ingredients straight from your garden! These pestos are packed with nutrients and can be used in a variety of ways, from pasta sauces to sandwiches sauces and more!

Ingredients in Garden Pesto

Options for Greens from the Garden (or Store)

Basil is an excellent and traditional flavor for pestos. It goes especially well on pasta but truly it’s a great summer flavor and is a perfect straight from the garden herb.

Basil from the garden

Our Swiss chard plants have done really well in our garden. Of course you can cook these up like your normal greens but why not mix it up by turning it into a versatile pesto sauce? This is a perfect way to mix up your use or use some extra veggies that need to be used soon. 

Swiss chard from the garden

Did you know that you can re-grow carrot tops? Simply place the carrots tops in a dish with some water, changing the water regularly. When they start to sprout, place them in soil. They will not re-grow carrots this way but you will end up with some nutrient packed carrot greens on repeat and they are an excellent option to use in pesto!

We’ve always had luck growing peppers. I’m thinking maybe because we’ve lived in warm climates and they’ve done well here or perhaps it’s just a hearty plant! Pick a pepper and add it to your pesto for that extra spicy kick you love in your dishes. Or for extra spice, skip the greens and lemon and make your own version of a hot sauce pesto.

Peppers from the garden

Some other greens you could consider would be other herbs like cilantro and dill or other vegetables such as broccoli or beet greens (the top of beets). 

Pick Your Nut

Nuts are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and are overall wonderful for your health in moderation. Some nuts are healthier, cheaper or more available so that may help you choose which nut you would like to use.  For example, pine nuts are very expensive so you may choose to add a smaller amount of pine nuts or all walnuts instead if you’re trying to stick to a budget. Additionally, food allergies or sensitivities may dictate your choice.  You can experiment with any nuts or seeds you like in these pestos, knowing that some may require some additional adjustment of other ingredients. We most often use walnuts as they are a great option!

Oil and Salt 

If you are maintaining a whole foods plant based diet or are choosing to limit salt and oil for any reason, you can also experiment with using no or low oil and salt.  Most people will find the flavor to be better with oil and salt but you can easily reduce the amount to your taste.


Citrus fruits also have a lot of health benefits.  Packed with vitamin C and a fruit I always think of as an excellent body cleanser too, we love adding lots of citrus into our foods.  Typically, we use lemon in our pesto recipes.  You also could easily add lime.  For example, lime and cilantro pesto is a delicious combo! Lime or orange with peppers are also a great combination. If you experiment with orange or lime, let me know! 

How To Make Pesto

The basic recipe to experiment with is pick a green, add some citrus juice, oil and salt. Experiment with amounts to achieve desired texture and taste. I prefer more creamy for pasta sauce and more course for a sandwich spread. Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse it until it’s finely chopped. approximately 10-12 times and then on high for about 10 seconds for the desired consistency.



Yield: 12 oz

Garden To Table Pesto

Finished product vegan pesto with garlic lemon chard
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 4 to 6 Swiss chard leaves (stalks optional)
  • OR
  • 8 to 10 greens from mature carrot tops
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lemon juiced
  • 1/4 c walnuts


1. Gather ingredients and cut into approximately 1-2 inch pieces.

2. Place all ingredients in a food processor.

3. Pulse 10-12 times until finely chopped and ingredients are mixed inside the food processor. Turn on high for 10-12 seconds or until desired consistency is acheived.

How to Store

We use Mason jars with lids to keep these in the fridge for a few days to a week at a time.  I also believe you could freeze these pestos which would make it an excellent way to use up veggies from your garden and store them for later.

I would LOVE to hear what combinations you explore and what are your favorites.  Share this with a friend now and come back later to tell me your favorite combo!




Lebkuchen – Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Lebkuchen – Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Click on this image to pin for later.

With German heritage and living in Germany for a year, Lebkuchen is one of my absolute favorite parts about the holiday season. So if you’re eating plant based and gluten free, can you still eat this delicious holiday tradition? The answer is yes! Read on to learn how to make this easy and delicious cookie.

This recipe also makes a great recipe for a cookie exchange as you will impress all of your friends and your plant based and/or gluten free friends will feel included and be so thankful!

Lebkuchen is a spiced German holiday cookie coming from the German word “kuchen” or cake. Throughout the holiday season, they can be found hanging in German Christmas markets decorated with hearts or saying “Ich Liebe Dich” – “I Love You.” So I always thinking of this as the German love cookie.  Sharing Lebkuchen is a way to spread love, kindness and joy in the busy holiday season.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Grab your Plant Based and Gluten Free Lebkuchen ingredients.

Soften the butter and then add to sugar and neat egg substitute.

Combine dry ingredients separately.

Chop candied orange into thin pieces.

Cutting Candied Orange

Combine all ingredients slowly adding oat milk as well.

Continue to add nuts, candied orange and Gran Marnier.

Place small amount of dough on cookie sheet. Then bake.

Place the glaze on top and then enjoy!

Find the full recipe, including a printable version here:

Lebkuchen – Plant Based, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Plant Based Gluten Free Lebekuchen

Lebkuchen Spices – Use 1-2 Tbsp per recipe

  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • ½ tsp Ground Allspice
  • ½ tsp Ground Coriander
  • ½ tsp Ground Cardamom
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Anise Seed
  • ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg


  • 1¾ cup Ground Almonds or Ground Hazelnuts (or mixture of both)
  • ½ cup Softened Vegan Butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup Sugar (Organic)
  • 4 Neat Eggs
  • 3 cup Gluten Free Flour (Cup for Cup)
  • 1 Tbsp Lebkuchen Spices
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1½ tsp Double Acting Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Oat Milk (Or other non-dairy milk)
  • ½ cup Candied Orange Peel, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier


  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar


  1. Preheat Oven to 375°F.

  2. Soften butter and then mix in sugar and eggs until fluffy.

  3. Combine dry ingredients: flour, spices, cocoa powder and baking powder in a separate bowl.

  4. Alternate adding dry ingredient mixture with oat milk in small amounts to promote consistency while preventing clumping.

  5. Fold in nut mix and orange peel.

  6. Stir in Grand Marnier. 

  7. Drop 3 tablespoons of cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet or a greased cookie sheet.

  8. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350°F if cookies are browning too much.

  9. Let cool for a few minutes, then move to a cookie or cake rack to cool.


  1. Prepare the glaze while the cookies are still warm.

  2. Place ½ c. sugar and ¼ c. water in a small saucepan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes. 

  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla and Grand Marnier. 

  4. Sift powdered sugar over hot sugar syrup and stir until dissolved.

  5. Brush warm glaze over cookies with a pastry brush while they are warm. Let cookies cool if you can (I like them warm too) and enjoy! 

What other plant based gluten free recipes would you love to see? Tell me in the comments.

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Happy Holidays to you and your family! – Jess