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.
free 7-day vegan meal plan
Your next week of eating is planned out with these quick and delicious vegan bowls, meal prepping steps & full grocery list.
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.
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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
FAQs & adjustment tips
What pasta can I use?
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
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.
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?
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!
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
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
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- 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 423Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 230mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 15gSugar: 6gProtein: 26g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!