This vegan nut free pesto pasta is an easy weeknight meal that is deliciously gluten and dairy free! This recipe is sure to be a family favorite and only takes 20 minutes to make.
Someone recently asked me what my favorite pasta dish is. Picking a favorite pasta recipe would be like picking my favorite child (if I had kids that is), but this vegan nut free pesto pasta is definitely up there on my list!
Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a little kick, some fresh black pepper and finely chopped basil for a simple weeknight dinner! It’s packed with protein thanks to the hemp seeds but so light and fresh.
You can serve this as is, toss in your favorite veggies like peas or arugula or serve it alongside my lemon pepper salmon or a simple grilled chicken.
If you love this recipe, be sure to try my roasted carrot pasta next!
Pesto can be made with a bunch of different ingredients, but most will contain basil, a nut or seed and olive oil at the very least. For this recipe we’ll be using a few key ingredients to make a creamy, flavorful and a nut free pesto! You’ll need:
Hemp hearts – to add texture and creaminess to the recipe since we won’t be using any nuts. Most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, which can be expensive so we love having an alternative that is still very nutritious.
Basil – It wouldn’t be pesto without basil! Don’t skimp on the basil. This recipe calls for 2 full cups packed, but feel free to adjust to your preferences. This is where much of the flavor comes from, so don’t hold back!
Lemon – for a little bit of tang and extra flavor. You’ll need the juice from about 2 lemons.
Garlic – for lots of flavor and a touch of spice. I love a lot of garlic in my pasta, but you can scale back if you prefer.
Olive oil – this adds lot of flavor and makes the sauce extra creamy. I don’t recommend making this pesto without oil because it already doesn’t have nuts, so it needs the oil to make it creamy!
Salt & pepper – because they make everything better.
Parmesan Cheese – Most pesto uses cheese of some kind, but to keep this dairy free I just left it out.
You can add some nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, use your favorite non-dairy parmesan, or my homemade cashew parmesan! It adds a nice depth of flavor but all any one of these three are delicious.
How to make pesto
Step 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Just make sure to salt the water well to add flavor into the pasta.
Step 2. While the pasta is cooking, add all of the sauce ingredients to a food processor.
Step 3. Process until smooth, or leave a few chunks for texture if desired. Give it a taste and add any additional salt, pepper, basil, olive oil or cheese as desired.
I like the sauce pretty thick, but if you prefer a thinner consistency you can add extra olive oil or a splash of veggie broth or water.
Step 4. Toss the sauce and pasta together, add more salt or pepper, top with red pepper flakes and enjoy! This recipe can be eaten hot or serve it cold as pasta salad style.
If you want to keep things plant based or vegan, just serve as is! This recipe has a lot of protein from the hemp hearts, but you can up the protein content even further by using a chickpea or legume based pasta.
If you are not vegan, I love serving it alongside my lemon pepper salmon or tossing some grilled chicken into the mix.
You can make a double batch of the sauce so you have extra in case you want to add more veggies or protein.
Frequently asked questions
Is it gluten free?
Yes! The sauce as written is gluten free. To keep this whole recipe gluten free, I used brown rice pasta, but you can use regular pasta, chickpea pasta etc.
Does it keep?
This vegan nut free pesto pasta will store in the fridge for about 3-5 days. It may brown slightly, but the lemon acts as a natural preservative to keep it fresh for longer.
What pasta is best for pesto?
I prefer using rotini pasta for pesto because the spirals trap the sauce really well. However, penne, rigatoni or even elbows work well!
Try these vegan pasta recipes next!
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Vegan Nut Free Pesto Pasta
by: claire cary
- 1 pound dry pasta of choice I used brown rice pasta
- 1 ¼ cups hemp hearts
- Juice from 2 lemons about 4 tbsp
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 2 cups packed basil
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ – ½ cup water or veggie broth
- ½ tsp sea salt or to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or parmesan
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, add all of the sauce ingredients to a food processor.
- Process until smooth, or leave a few chunks if desired. Taste and adjust flavors as desired.
- Toss the sauce and pasta together, add more salt or pepper if desired and enjoy!
Liked it very much! Thanks!
sheenam @ thetwincookingproject says
Looks nice, quick and easy!! Yummy.
Claire Cary says
Thank you! One of my favorite recipes 🙂