This delicious and quick vegan oil free pesto is fat free, nut free and dairy free. It can be used as a pasta sauce, dressing, marinade or dip!
Typically basil pesto is made with olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Instead of the oil this homemade recipe uses water and lemon juice. I substitute the pine nuts for chickpeas which gives the pesto substance without the nuts or fat. And the cheese is substituted with nutritional yeast which gives a dairy free "cheesy" flavor when combined with the right amount of garlic and salt.
Why you'll love this pesto
- So much flavor!
- Super easy
- Plant based: eat more greens without having to eat a salad!
- Fat-free & Oil-Free: For those on the bean protocol this pesto can be a game changer because it's a fat-free way to add a ton of flavor to your bean meals! Each serving has less than 1 gram of fat which is naturally occurring in chickpeas (the secret ingredient).
- Nut-free: if you are making this for someone who has a nut allergy or sensitivity, this recipe is perfect for you.
Ingredient substitutions & variations
- Spinach substitutions: you can substitute with more basil, kale, arugula... really any type of greens will work but the pesto may take on a slightly different flavor. The key to making tasty pesto is ensuring at least ⅓ of the greens being used is basil.
- Chickpea substitutions: chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are used to give the pesto some substance in place of the traditional pine nuts. White beans, pine nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts or walnuts are all good substitutes if you don't want to use chickpeas.
- Nutritional yeast substitutions: not to be confused with other types of yeast, nutritional yeast is yellow in color and adds a cheesy flavor when paired with salt and garlic. Parmesan (regular or dairy free versions) is a great substitute.
What to eat with pesto
- Pasta dish / stir fry -This is my go-to meal to clean out the fridge with! My favorite healthy noodles are cauliflower gnocchis from Trader Joe's, Banza chickpea pasta, Jovial brown rice pasta or super thin zucchini noodles (zoodles). Next, throw in some veggies - usually some broccoli and green beans. Sometimes I'll add a protein, typically some great northern beans, chicken or chicken sausage. You could also use this for a pesto lasagna dish.
- Spaghetti squash - If you haven't had spaghetti squash before it has the texture of angel hair pasta with a very mild taste. Typically, I'll enjoy this as a side dish or I'll add some protein to make it a full meal. I LOVE pesto spaghetti squash and make it frequently as a side dish.
- Marinade - Use the pesto as a marinade to your protein of choice.
- Sauce or dressing - Use as a flavorful sauce on top of a salad, bowl, wrap, sandwich, the possibilities are endless...
Yes! For easy use, freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove the pesto cubes and place them in an air tight container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw the pesto place it in the fridge overnight or in a pan on the stovetop on low heat. Note that the color of the pesto may not be as vibrant after it is frozen.
Store the pesto for up to 1 week in an air tight container in the fridge.
To make pesto without nuts you can substitute chickpeas!
More fat-free recipes you'll love!
I hope you love this oil free pesto recipe! If you make it I’d love if you could leave a rating & connect with me on Instagram @passthesprouts!
Oil Free Pesto (nut free + vegan)
- ½ cup chickpeas cooked not dry, also known as garbanzo beans
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 cup basil
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 large lemon usually produces 2 T lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- Gather: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Ensure the garlic cloves have the skin removed. Most food processors do best if the heaviest ingredients are put in first.
- Blend: Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until well combined. Some people like the pesto a little chunky while others prefer to blend longer until creamy.
- Spinach Substitutions: basil, kale, arugula, mixed greens, really any type of greens
- Chickpea Substitutions: white beans, pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts
- Nutritional Yeast Substitutions: parmesan, vegan parmesan
- Storage: in an air tight container store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer (ideally in ice cube trays) for up to 3 months.