This vegan pesto pasta salad recipe was shared with us by Susan Voisin of FatFreeVegan.com way back in 2006. We’ve adapted it just a little over the years, and updated this post. The recipe isn’t quite fat-free, due to the nuts and a wee bit of fat in the tofu, but it is oil-free and quite low in fat. It’s also got a good dose of protein.
Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad that’s Oil-Free and Low in Fat
You can make this dish even more nutritious with lentil pasta. But if you are going to make it ahead, regular wheat pasta or corn pasta (for gluten-free) tend to keep best.
You can also swap some other fresh herbs in for part of the basil. We really like parsley, but oregano, tarragon, or cilantro can each add a different flavor twist.
Since this recipe is cheese-free, don’t be shy on seasoning to taste with salt. Traditional pesto uses Parmesan, which is quite salty. Without it, you do need to add a little pungency in.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
For nut-free pesto pasta salad, you can substitute sunflower seeds for the nuts.
- 1 pound pasta (gluten-free, if needed)
- ¼ cup pine nuts, chopped walnuts, or chopped cashews, plus additional for garnish
- 3 to 4 large garlic cloves
- 3 cups fresh basil (or 2 cups basil + 1 cup spinach)
- 6 ounces (1/2 12-ounce package) firm silken tofu
- 2 tablespoons water or unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 to 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, and then rinse with cool water. Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl.
- Put the ¼ cup walnuts and garlic in your food processor or blender and pulse until finely minced. Add the basil, tofu, water or milk beverage, nutritional yeast, and salt and process until smooth.
- Pour the creamy pesto sauce over the pasta and add the tomatoes. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with more nuts, to serve, if desired.
I made a batch tonight with fresh basil from the garden. Delicious! Found the Mister sneaking another spoonful. The picture looked like there were fresh peppers, so I added some and chopped red onion. they gave a nice crunchy texture. I’ll definitely make it again as it was so easy to put together and we both have lunch for the next two days.
I bet it was amazing with homegrown basil Virginia!
looks good – i have two quick questions:
1) i have no nuts in my pantry right now – is there anything i could substitute?
2) i’m allergic to tofu – anything i could use instead?
I was about to suggest tofu after your first question! Do you have any seeds? Those aren’t as rich, but can work in a pinch. Coconut cream would impart a strong flavor, so I wouldn’t recommend that. My only other suggestions is to skip the oil-free aspect and add some oil. If you are really into garlic, you could roast a garlic head and puree that with oil (or milk beverage if you really wanted to keep it oil-free) for a creamier finish.
thank you – great ideas!