I often get requests for the perfect dairy-free alfredo or the best vegan pesto, but not many think to enjoy them both together! This dairy-fee pesto cream pasta merges two wonderful dishes into one. It’s made with a quick, cheese-less pesto and a versatile roux-style cream sauce in less than 30 minutes! The recipe can also be adapted to fit most dietary needs with ease – I’ve included some suggestions below.
This Plant-Based Pesto Cream Pasta has No Need for Cheese
The simple recipe below gets plenty of richness from olive oil and pine nuts. Sure, you could top it with some dairy-free parmesan, but it really isn’t needed.
Nonetheless, I do love to mix things up with add-ins. This creamy but relatively light pasta is the perfect backdrop for whatever vegetables and proteins you have on hand. Since I originally posted this recipe over fifteen years ago, I’ve tried quite a few variations. Sometimes I sauté bell peppers, zucchini, or asparagus, or steam some broccoli florets. For added protein, cooked chicken or scallops are brilliant in this dish. If you want to keep it plant-based, I love to toss in chickpeas, or use red lentil pasta.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-free Pesto Cream Pasta
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, plant-based, optionally vegan, and optionally vegetarian.
- 1 (16-ounce) package uncooked pasta (gluten-free, if needed)
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour or white rice flour (for gluten-free)
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage (see Milk Beverage Note below)
- ⅓ cup chicken broth or vegetable (for vegan)
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Add the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt to your food processor. Pulse the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed, until relatively smooth.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the olive oil, flour, salt, and pepper for about 2 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. While whisking constantly, add the dairy-free milk a little at a time until incorporated.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Return the saucepan to the heat. Slowly whisk in the broth. Simmer (do not boil) until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the pesto mixture to the saucepan, and whisk until thoroughly combined and heated through. Taste, and add seasonings, if needed.
- Gently toss the cooked pasta and sauce together.