Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta Recipe (Oil-Free)

dark bowl of vegan pesto pasta with steamed broccoli and asparagus next to some oil free vegan pesto

You wouldn’t normally think of a pesto pasta as being healthy for you. No matter the great taste and comfort it may provide, it is typically still a super rich and oily dish. Luckily for you, today we’re going to share our low-fat vegan pesto pasta recipe – so you can enjoy all the good without the tummy ache.

On our quest to adding more whole plant-based foods on our plate, we discovered that some dishes are easier to healthify than others. 

Of course, adding more vegetables to just about any meal already boosts the nutritional value for the day.

That’s why you’ll find broccoli in our Mac and Cheese recipe – and you’ll also find some here, along with a few of our other favorite green veggies, such as zucchini and asparagus.

Why? Because they all go along just so wonderfully with the green pesto!

Choosing whole grain pasta over white pasta is another step to add more whole foods to your meals. But did we cheat on the pesto here? Nope.

Sadly, we lived a couple of years as healthy vegans without any pesto in our lives. Because, as you know, it’s mainly just oil with a few basil leaves.

But then, we came across a brilliant idea in Dr. Michael Greger’s book “How Not To Die” (highly recommended to all of you health nerds like us! More of our favorite vegan books here.) for how you can create a low fat, even oil-free pesto!

Vegan Bean Pesto In Jar

The Magic That Is Bean Pesto

Yes, it’s legumes. You got that right. White beans work best, but peas are also fine. Most beans would probably do here but we can’t guarantee it. Not only are beans very tasty (at least to us), they also offer tremendous health benefits!

One serving of legumes, which is half a cup, provides about 115 calories, 20 g of carbohydrates, 7–9 g of fiber, 8 g of protein, and only 1 g of fat. 

They also offer vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, folate and potassium – some of which are also found in meat products. Legumes are basically the cholesterol- and cruelty-free nutritious sister of steak!

Vegan Bean Pesto In Jar with Ingredients

What’s more, they are associated with longevity, a slimmer waist, lower blood pressure and improved insulin levels. Unfortunately, almost all of us don’t eat enough of them!

When you’re just starting out on a whole foods plant-based diet, you might find the taste and texture of these legumes pretty weird. We get that. 

A great way to get around this is to just use the legumes to create something awesome – like vegan black bean meatballs or a creamy low-fat vegan pesto pasta.

We were so blown away by how creamy this turned out without any added fat or animal products! I bet you’d choose protein-rich over oily any day, too.

Making Vegan Pesto Pasta Oil Free and Low Fat

Why Our Vegan Pesto Pasta Is so Awesome!

  • High in protein and low in fat
  • Completely oil-free and very wholesome
  • Creamy and comforting
  • High in fiber and micronutrients
  • Delicious whether enjoyed hot or cold
  • Put together in 20 minutes
  • A beginner level recipe
Low Fat Vegan Pesto Pasta with Vegetables

Making Our Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta 

The good news doesn’t stop at the great nutritional value – that’s only one good reason to make our recipe.

What makes this recipe even better is that no real cooking skills are required for this green goodness; it’s basically a one pot meal! 

Granted, you need some kind of food processor or at least an immersion blender (a personal blender will do as well). But that’s pretty much all the extravagance we ask of you!

Please view our bean pesto recipe as a basic blueprint.

Ready To Eat Oil Free Vegan Pesto Pasta

If that’s too much garlic for you, start with just one clove. If you don’t have hemp seeds at home, just skip them for now. And, as mentioned above, use another legume if you like.

The same goes for the veggies that you cook with your pasta. Right now is a great time to get asparagus, but that’s not the case year-round. Use what’s in season and what tastes great to you!

Heck, start without any veggies if that would keep you from trying it all (though we would recommend some cherry tomatoes, at least).

You will see that it’s pretty easy to make a healthy vegan pesto by just replacing parmesan with nutritional yeast.

And if you’re looking to make a pesto pasta salad during hot days or to add to your next meal prep, you can just use cold pasta and a couple of different veggies instead.

Depending on the pasta you choose, this can very easily be turned into a gluten-free dish as well.

Now, let’s see how exactly to make it! Enjoy our recipe below and feel free to rate, comment, Pin for later, and tag us when you make it – we’d love to see your creations.

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Our easy creamy vegan pesto pasta is low in fat and completely oil free! By using white bean pesto and vegetables along with a whole grain pasta, this dish is very high in fiber and nutrients. An easy and comforting dinner that's perfect for meal prep and can also be eaten cold!

Ingredients

Vegan Bean Pesto

  • 1 cup cannellini beans, cooked (260 g)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (42 g)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (30 g)
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

To Assemble the Pesto Pasta

  • 5 oz whole-wheat pasta (140 g)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen (160 g)
  • 4 asparagus springs, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, to garnish
  • Handful fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat water for the pasta into a medium pot.
  2. Make the bean pesto by placing the spinach, garlic, basil, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and lemon juice into a food processor and pulse to obtain a creamy mixture. 
  3. Add the beans and process to incorporate, then add water to obtain the pesto texture – if needed, more than the suggested 2 tablespoons.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and transfer into a lidded jar.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Within five minutes before your pasta is done, add your vegetables (zucchini, green peas and asparagus) into the same pot.
  6. Drain everything and transfer into a bowl.
  7. Scoop the pesto on top of the cooked pasta and veggies, and mix to combine
  8. Divide into serving bowls, garnish with pine nuts, nutritional yeast and basil leaves. Finally, drizzle with lemon juice and serve warm.

Notes

  • Fussili, orrechiete or penne work perfect because their shapes “trap” the delicious pesto.
  • You can use peas or tofu instead of white beans for the pesto.
  • If hemp seeds are not easy to come by, they can be omitted.
  • Feel free to change any of the vegetables to suit your preferences!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 516Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 346mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 23gSugar: 9gProtein: 37g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!
woman in grey vegan shirt with her hands on her hips looking to the left and smiling
Alena Schowalter has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work – currently, she studies for her Vegan Nutritionist Diploma. Alena enjoys ethical discussions around veganism, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

Free Vegan Transition Course

become fully plant-based.

Our free transition eCourse teaches you how to meet your nutrients easily and create simple, tasty meals. You’ll also get a free 3-day meal plan, education on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and how to navigate social situations.

19 thoughts on “Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta Recipe (Oil-Free)”

    • 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,
      Alena

      Reply
  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:)

    Reply
    • 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!

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  5. 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!

    Reply
  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!
    Terri

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply

Leave a Comment