Penne with Creamy Low-Fat Pesto and Vegetables (Vegan)


This recipe was pulled from a prior issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.

Notes:  The leftover steaming water produces a tasty vitamin-packed broth, which is perfect for thinning and warming the pesto. For a variation, substitute flat-leaf parsley and walnuts for the basil and pine nuts.

Serves: 4


  • 4 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved (1 cup)
  • 12 oz. penne or other short tubular pasta
  • 12 oz. small red potatoes (about 6), cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz.)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup low-fat firm silken tofu (4 oz.)
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil


  • Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for pasta.
  • Make pesto: In dry small skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, stirring, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and let cool.
  • Using a mortar and pestle or side of chef’s knife, mash garlic and 1 teaspoon salt until paste forms. Transfer to food processor along with toasted pine nuts, basil and pepper flakes and process until finely chopped. Add tofu and oil and process until mixture is smooth. Transfer to medium bowl and season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Set pesto aside.
  • Place potatoes in a steamer basket in large saucepan over 2 cups boiling water and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Add green beans to steamer basket, cover and cook until potatoes and beans are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer vegetables to large serving bowl; cover to keep warm. Measure 1/3 cup water remaining in steamer and stir into pesto until well blended.
  • Meanwhile, add penne to boiling water; stir to prevent sticking. Cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water. Add pasta to vegetables along with pesto, adding a little reserved pasta water if needed. Toss to coat well and serve hot.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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