There are some commonly non-Jain items that I absolutely love like pesto, salsa, and guacamole… All of the following almost always contain onion and/or garlic. So, here is the Jain & vegan way to make them without root vegetables, while keeping them just as tasty, if not more! For this post, lets start with Jain Pesto and the many uses of this absolutely delicious dip-spread-sauce creation.

Jain Pesto:


I love pesto on anything: spread on sandwiches, as a dip, with pasta or even in quesadillas! There are so many ways to customize pesto sauces to enhance different flavors.

Some of my favorite greens to make pesto with are:

  • Basil
  • Kale
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Arugula
  • Kale+ Parsley
  • Kale+Basil+Cilantro
  • Arugula+Basil
  • Create your own mix!

Some of my favorite nuts to toss in are:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Toasted Pine Nuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Marcona Almonds

You can experiment around with these nuts and greens to make a pesto of your choice.

Garlic Free Vegan Pesto:



  • 1.5-2 heaping cups of basil
  • 1.5-2 heaping cups of your favorite leafy greens (spinach, kale, or arugula)
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (or other nut)
  • 1 tsp hing
  • 1 tbsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (Optional)
  • 1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, adjust to taste
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste (approximately 1 tsp for each)

How to make the pesto:

Add ingredients to a food processor in the order as listed above. Blend to a smooth paste. If blending gets difficult, add ingredients slowly with olive oil to make it easier to blend.


Here I had made a pesto with cilantro, basil, and kale with almonds and walnuts! Now, time to get creative…how do you plan to use your pesto? Ever tried a  Green Goddess Grilled Cheese?


Mouth watering already? Well you’re in luck, this recipe couldn’t get any easier!


makes 1 sandwich

2 slices bread (p.s. wholegrain breads with seeds are delicious!!)
2-3 tablespoons Jain Pesto (recipe above)
2 thin slices vegan mozzarella cheese
handful fresh baby spinach or baby arugula
1/4 avocado, sliced
olive oil or vegan butter (to toast the bread with)


Prep two slices of bread by spreading about 1 tbsp of Jain Pesto on each slice. Assemble the sandwich ingredients on one slice of bread in this order: 1 slice of cheese, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese (not pictured below, sorry!), and baby spinach/arugula. Top with another slice of mozzarella and the second slice of bread, press together.


Next, heat 1 tbsp of ghee, butter, or olive oil in a pan on low-medium heat. Carefully place the sandwich on the pan and cook for a few minutes until the bread is golden brown. Lightly press down on the sandwich to make sure cheese is melted and the sandwich is sticking together. Flip the sandwich over and cook until the second slice is also golden brown. Remove from pan when ready and serve warm! 

Looking for something more appetizer-ish? How about…

Strawberry Pesto Crostini:



1 Sliced French Bread loaf

1-2 cups Chopped Fresh Strawberries

2-3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Jain Pesto

Crumbled vegan Cheese


Slice the french bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Drizzle some olive oil over the slices. Toast in the oven on low heat until slightly crunchy but still soft. While toasting the bread, toss chopped strawberries in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar until fully coated. Remove from oven after 2-3 minutes and spread pesto. Sprinkle on the crumbled vegan cheese, and place in oven for another couple minutes so it softens. Take the crostini out of the oven and spoon the balsamic strawberries on top of each slice. Serve warm.


Want to try something a little more fancy…

Vegan Grilled Vegetable Napoleon:



2-3 Sliced and Grilled Zucchini/Yellow Squashes

2-3 sliced tomatoes

Sliced extra-firm tofu, drained, dried, and grilled

2-3 cups of Fresh Basil leaves

Jain Pesto



Grill all vegetables until golden brown and cooked through. Layer the napoleon as follows (bottom to top): Tofu, Pesto, Basil, Squash, Pesto, Zucchini, Tofu, Pesto, Basil, Tomato Slice, Pesto. You can serve this as a warm appetizer or cold like a salad!

How about a thin crust pizza variety?

Pesto Artichoke Pizza:


1 homemade crust (I use 1 cup Bisquick with a little bit of water, flax meal, and oil to make the dough, and then roll out the crust to pre-bake for 7 minutes before baking it with the toppings)

Jain Pesto

1 can Artichoke hearts

1 can sliced black olives

Vegan shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Crumbled vegan cheese


Assemble your pizza while using the pesto as the pizza sauce. Top with artichoke hearts, olives, goat cheese, and shredded cheese as you please. Maybe try experimenting with other toppings too that go well with pesto, like sun dried tomatoes, squashes, zucchini, or spinach!

And of course, the Classic Pesto Pasta

Mix pesto in with your choice of pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and chopped zucchini for a simply delicious meal.


Posted by:Priyanka

I am a Board Certified Physician Assistant with a passion for helping others achieve their optimal health through a plant-based lifestyle. On this blog, I share simple recipes, wellness tips, and ways to practice compassionate living rooted in Jain values of non-violence, non-attachment, and non-absolutism.

16 replies on “No Onion-No Garlic Pesto!

  1. What type (company) of cheese and bread do you use? Often times, I come across these products with enzymes and that tends to mean that it may be made from animals.


    1. Try Tillamook cheese–it’s 100% vegetarian! Trader Joes also sells cheeses that are labeled specifically as vegetarian. Vegan cheese alternatives are also a possibility (Daiya, for example). For bread, I’d suggest looking for natural, whole grain products. You can also try rye bread which is nutritious and less processed than most other breads. Maybe even try baking some from scratch 🙂


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