Many pesto recipes or store-bought products contain oil. If you are following a whole-food plant based diet (or the oil-free versions of plant-based like McDougall or Forks over Knives), sometimes called WFPBNO, you are healthfully and deliciously oil-free. So what about pesto? Yes, you can actually make an entirely delicious and pesto-tasting pesto that does not use one drop of oil. And it's even low-fat.
The consistency of this recipe will vary depending on how firmly you pack your basil. So reserve some extra leaves, and make a bit of extra vegetable stock, so you can modify as needed when you blend. You will want to control the thickness of the pesto depending on what you are using for, or general preference.
The texture will vary a bit depending on whether you use avocado or tofu. You can use silken or regular tofu of whatever firmness for this recipe, you will just need to blend until you reach the desired texture. I like using avocado for pasta salads, and blending a bit less so you get little chunks of avocado within the pasta salad. The advantage of making your pesto at home!
Oil-free Basil Pesto
- 2 cups basil fresh, packed
- 1 cup pea shoots or preferred leafy green, such as kale
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 oz tofu Or avocado
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice 1-2 lemons
- 3 Tbsp low-sodium vegetable broth more to change consistency
- 2 Tbsp garlic
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- t tsp lemon zest from lemon rind
- Add all ingredients into the food processor or blender, and blend while scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Add additional vegetable broth, or additional basil or leafy greens, to change the consistency as desired.
- Store in refrigerator and use within 3-4 days. Can be easily frozen and thawed (freeze in ice cubes!)
This pesto works great as a dip (for bread or vegetables), as a sandwich spread, in pastas, on roasted vegetables, and my favorite is using it on top of a baked potatoes as a potato topper.
You can also use it as a salad dressing. Thin it out with some plant-based milk (such as cashew or rice milk), apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar for a delicious dressing.
I have two upcoming recipes that use this pesto in a pasta salad. Make sure you subscribe to this site so you can get our new recipes delivered to your inbox once per week!
If you do not have pea shoots, you can substitute another leafy green (sunflower greens, other sprouts, arugula, spinach, kale all work well), or (of course) just use more basil.
Avocado and tofu both work well in this recipe. I prefer avocado sometimes when making certain pasta salads.
Storing and use
Use this basil within about 3-4 days. With how delicious this is, shouldn't be a problem. You can also freeze pesto, and thaw it out later. Make a large batch and freeze it in an ice-cube tray to portion it out over time.
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