Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta (High-Protein)

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by Alena Schowalter
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This high-protein vegan pesto pasta is veggie-loaded, bursting with flavor and really easy to make on a weekday! Smothered in creamy, protein-rich pesto sauce, this 30-minute dinner will have your family licking their plates.

What’s better than a customizable and comforting pasta dish that is rich in essential nutrients and low in fat and calories? Our easy vegan pasta with oil-free pesto sauce just ticks all boxes.

This awesome combination allows you to go back for seconds (or thirds, not judging) while cleaning out your fridge and use up any vegetables that are about to go bad.

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You can use the same principle for our vegan hummus pasta, white sauce pasta with veggies or one-pot pasta marinara, by the way!

And if you’re not keen on making your own protein-packed pesto at home, feel free to just grab any vegan store-bought pesto and add it to your pasta and veggies.

Ready To Eat Oil Free Vegan Pesto Pasta

Recipe overview & features

  • Vegan, dairy-free & oil-free
  • Creamy, comforting & nutritious
  • Customizable and beginner-friendly
  • High in fiber and micronutrients
  • Meal prep-friendly one-pot meal
  • Delicious whether enjoyed hot or cold

In terms of kitchen equipment, you can cook the pasta along with the vegetables in the same medium-sized pot and need a food processor or blender for the basil bean pesto.

Other than that, just a regular sharp knife and chopping board are needed. Sounds good?

Let’s see how you can whip up this delicious high-protein vegan pesto pasta in under half an hour.

top view of a table with white beans, spinach, garlic, hemp seeds and homemade vegan sauce

Ingredients needed

  • Pasta — your favorite kind from short to long, gluten-free, legume-based, whole grain or just normal wheat pasta.
  • Veggies — we like to use seasonal produce, so this spring vegetable pesto pasta features zucchini, asparagus and green peas.
  • White Beans — small or large, they create the base for our low-fat bean pesto!
  • Spinach — bulking up the pesto and sneaking in some greens.
  • Basil Leaves — key to a flavorful pesto in our books!
  • Nutritional Yeast — for the dairy-free cheesy hint.
  • Hemp Seeds — these add some creaminess and essential fats.
  • Garlic & Lemon Juice — to round up and deepen the savory flavor.

These are the main ingredients needed for our vegan pesto pasta. You can find the exact amounts in the recipe card below and we’ll share some customization ideas with you in a bit, so keep on reading!

Vegan Bean Pesto In Jar

How to make vegan pesto pasta

Heat enough water for your pasta in a medium-sized pot and bring it to a boil.

Make the bean pesto

Get your food processor and add spinach, garlic, basil, hemp seeds, walnuts and all the spices to it.

Pulse a few times, then add the cannellini beans and process until well incorporated. You might need to add some more water or plant-based milk at this point.

Season to taste and set aside.

Cook pasta & veggies

Once your water is boiling, add the dry pasta and cook according to package instructions. 

Within five minutes before your pasta is done, add your vegetables (zucchini, green peas and asparagus) into the same pot. 

Finally, drain everything and put your cooked pasta and vegetables back into your pot.

mixing cooked pasta with veggies and sauce

Assemble the pesto pasta

Scoop your homemade bean pesto on top of the pasta and veggies and give it a good stir until well combined.

Be gentle, so you don’t accidentally mash anything up! Finally, put your delicious meal into serving bowls and garnish with pine nuts, nutritional yeast and basil leaves.

Storage suggestions

You can store the bean pesto separately to use on pizza or sandwiches in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 6 months. 

Thaw in the refrigerator and then make an even more convenient batch of pesto pasta with it!

You can also store any leftovers together in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat it with some additional liquid on the stove or in the microwave for a quick meal.

What we like to do is enjoy it as a cold pesto pasta salad the next day with some added halved cherry tomatoes for fresh flavor! 

It’s a great grab-and-go lunch straight from the fridge, especially during the summer months.

cooked pasta with bean pesto and broccoli in a black bowl

FAQs & adjustment tips

What pasta can I use for pesto pasta?

Fusilli, orecchiette or penne work great because their shapes “trap” the delicious pesto. But we’ve made pesto pasta with spaghetti a lot of times, too!

You can choose gluten-free, whole-grain or legume-based pasta, depending on your nutritional needs and preferences.

To make this low-carb and grain-free, serve your bean pesto over spiralized veggies!

What veggies go well with pesto pasta?

I have barely come across a vegetable that wouldn’t pair well with pesto pasta! Our spring-inspired recipe calls for asparagus, zucchini and peas, but here’s what you can use instead:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Broccoli or cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Bell pepper
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant 

Can I just add pesto to pasta?

Yup, just skip the “cooking your veggies” part and add the bean pesto straight to the cooked pasta!

It is packed with leafy greens anyway, so you are sure to get your serving of vegetables plus essential nutrients that way.

Is pesto usually vegan?

Unfortunately, no. Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil — and plenty of Parmesan cheese. But you can find vegan-friendly pesto at the store these days, just check the label!

Plus, it’s really easy to make vegan pesto at home — no matter if you’re looking for the whole food vegan version or just the traditional olive oil-based one.

black bowl of homemade vegan pesto pasta with vegetables on a table

Why do you use white beans?

We love to add a whole food plant-based twist on common recipes, so we decided that this should be an oil-free bean pesto.

While it does not taste the same, we like to incorporate healthy legumes in different ways because it bumps up the fiber, mineral and plant-based protein content!

You can use soft tofu or peas instead, by the way.

What else can I do with the pesto?

If you want to go beyond pasta, you can spread vegan bean pesto on your homemade pizza crust or sandwiches. Find our 15+ favorite vegan recipes with pesto here!

Serve it as a dip during any potlucks, top roast veggies, thin it out to use as a dressing for vegan bowls or serve it any way you would eat hummus.

baked vegan cauliflower crust pizza with veggies of which is one slice taken by a hand

What fats can I use?

If you don’t have access to hemp seeds, no problem! We mostly added them alongside the walnuts for their omega-3 content but bean pesto can also be made with other healthy fats!

Some suggestions:

  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado

Additional flavor ideas

We love adding sun-dried tomatoes or olives to our pesto sometimes as well as cilantro or jalapeno peppers. Parsley or arugula instead of basil also works when making your own pesto!

Generally speaking, if you don’t like super strong flavors in your food, go easier on the garlic, salt and pepper at first, then adjust to taste later.

More vegan pasta recipes

Did you make our vegan pesto pasta and like it? Be sure to leave a review and rating below and don’t forget to Pin this recipe here.

High-Protein Vegan Pesto Pasta

by Alena Schowalter
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
This veggie-loaded & protein-packed vegan pesto pasta is bursting with flavor and really easy to make on a weekday! Smothered in creamy sauce, this plant-based 30-minute dinner will have your family licking their plates. It can be prepared ahead of time and also enjoyed cold as a quick lunch!
Serves 3


  • 8 oz pasta of choice 225 g
  • 1 recipe bean pesto
  • 1 zucchini cut into cubes
  • 1 cup green peas frozen (160g)
  • 4 asparagus sprigs roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Heat water for the pasta in a medium pot and bring it to a boil while preparing your pesto.
  • Once your water is boiling, add the dry pasta and cook according to package instructions. 
  • Within five minutes before your pasta is done, add your vegetables (zucchini, green peas and asparagus) into the same pot. 
  • When this time has elapsed, drain everything and put your cooked pasta and vegetables back into your pot or large serving bowl.
  • Scoop your bean pesto on top of the cooked pasta and veggies, and mix well to combine. Be careful not to mash anything up at this point! 
  • Divide between serving bowls and garnish with nutritional yeast, basil, lemon juice and pine nuts.


  • Fusilli, orecchiette or penne work perfectly because their shapes “trap” the delicious pesto.
  • Feel free to change any of the vegetables to suit your preferences or seasonality!
  • Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated with some added liquid or enjoyed cold.
  • Find storage & replacement tips in the article above.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Nutrition Facts
High-Protein Vegan Pesto Pasta
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed.
Rate and share if you likeMention @nutriciously_ on Instagram or share this on Pinterest!
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Hi, I'm Alena Schowalter — a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with my husband, I founded nutriciously in 2015 and have been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages toward a healthy plant-based diet. I enjoy discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature, and creating new recipes. Read more about us here.


    • Hi Teresa,
      sorry to hear that. Nooch is life ;) We use it to obtain a cheesy hint but you can just skip it entirely, too! Not every pesto needs to have it.
      Let us know how it turns out and if you like the recipe!
      Best wishes,

  1. When do you add the nutritional yeast in for the pesto sauce? It is on the list of ingredients, but I don’t see it listed in the directions. I am looking forward to trying this:)

    • Thanks so much for pointing this out! Just forgot to put it in the instructions, yes – sorry. You just add it to the food processor along with the spinach, garlic and everything else in the beginning. It’s now listed in the instruction :)
      Have fun making this and let us know how you liked it!

  2. I absolutely love beans, all types, but they don’t like me. I get very gassy and bloated, can you reccomend a substitute?

  3. Hi, I made the pesto of this recipe and I really liked it. I had to make it with black beans (leftover) but the taste is really great. I even took a picture of it but can not include it here? Thanks for the idea.

    • thanks so much for checking in, Sophie! Yes, I think I saw your photo and commented on it :) Turned out to be a darker green pesto using black beans, right? Probably just as delish x

  4. Hi Alena! This recipe looks amazing. Please consider adding nutritional details to your recipes. I will plug this into my lose it app, but that would be very helpful. Thanks for considering!

  5. 5 stars
    This is my first recipe to try from your site (found you by googling oil free pesto). This is delish — I am making my second batch in a week! I subbed 2 C basil for the basil and spinach, just because it’s going crazy in my garden right now. I’ll be checking out more of your recipes; thanks!

  6. First time visitor to your site, recipes all look fab! You mention in the ingredients, zucchinni, peas asparagus but don’t mention them in the instructions. How are they prepared and are they just added on top?

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Terri! Very happy to know that you like our recipes :) Sorry the instructions weren’t super clear to you, we mention the zucchini, peas and asparagus in step 5: “Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Within five minutes before your pasta is done, add your vegetables into the same pot.” Might edit this part to make it easier for everyone to follow!

  7. Thank you for the recipe! Do you think garlic powder would work? I can’t actually safely eat garlic at the moment due to GERD (thinking like 1/2 a teaspoon).

    • thanks for the question — sure, you can go very low in the garlic and use powdered instead of fresh! Let us know how it turns out :)

  8. Hi! I’m waiting to try this recipe as written before changing things up and now asparagus are in season, yeah!
    I’d like to ask you, as a meal prep how long does it store in the fridge? Can it be reheated at the stovetop or microwaved?
    Thanks so much:)

    • I’m excited for you to try this! the best way to store this meal is by using separate containers for the pasta, veggies and pesto — usually, the pesto keeps well for up to a week in the fridge. add some liquid to it when reheating and give it a good stir! for the pasta and veggies, I wouldn’t give them more than 2-3 days in the fridge. Hope this helps!

    • thanks for the question! Yes, you can freeze this pesto in a sealed container. Give it a stir should it have separated upon thawing!

  9. Dear Alena,
    Are there any substitutions for walnuts in your recipes (dressings and sauces) due to nut allergy?
    Looking forward to hearing from you?


    • great question! This pesto in particular tastes great with sunflower seeds instead of walnuts. Generally speaking, nuts can be replaced by seeds and sometimes even omitted.
      Hope this helps!

  10. I’m omni, but for various reasons I was looking for highish protein veg*n recipes I could pack and eat cold for lunch. Tall order right? I found this and decided to make it because it had good macros and looked healthy af. I eat pretty healthy, but some bloggers are next level and their food tastes like cardboard. Tbh I was not expecting much in the taste dept, but it looked so full of nutrition I wasn’t really bothered by that. O.M.G this is so flipping good. I am in love. I made it exactly as directed, and I’m overwhelmed with the tastiness. It’s super filling too. I will be adding this into my rotation for life. Thank you so much!

  11. 5 stars
    Oh my, this is amazing!! The pesto is delicious, I made w double basil/no spinach and cashews instead of walnuts. For veges I used broccoli and peas, and added a little sun dried tomato at the end. I love that you can keep the elements separate in the fridge so it can last and is adaptable each day. Ahhh!! Thank you!!


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