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Bowl of Oil-Free Vegan Pesto surrounded by garlic scapes and basil leaves
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5 from 11 votes

Oil-Free Vegan Pesto

This recipe makes 2 cups of pesto – enough to dress 16 ounces of pasta with plenty leftover.
Total Time20 minutes
Course: dip, dressing, main course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 8 1/4-cup servings
Calories: 128kcal


  • small covered oven proof dish such as a garlic roaster or ramekin
  • heavy-bottomed skillet
  • food processor


  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba, liquid from can of cannellini beans
  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes, optional
  • 2 ounces basil leaves (or more if not using scapes), large stems removed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, Himalayan
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground


  • Preheat oven to 400ºF
  • Put the untrimmed garlic bulb into a small covered baking dish (a ramekin or garlic roaster works well, or any small covered baking dish). Roast it in the oven until the garlic aroma starts to fill the kitchen and the cloves begin to soften; this will take about 15 minutes. Let the cloves cool before peeling.
  • In the meantime, warm up a medium or large dry cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Just warm the skillet, but don’t overheat. Add the walnuts and turn the heat up to medium-high; toast them while shaking and stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and continue to shake and stir for another minute, or until the nuts turn a bit golden and release a nutty aroma.
  • Put a fine mesh strainer over a measuring cup. Pour the cannellini beans into the strainer, reserving the liquid. You'll need 1 cup of the beans and 1/4 cup of the liquid AKA aquafaba.
  • Put 3 or 4 cloves of roasted garlic into the food processor bowl with all of the other ingredients; process until smooth. Taste and if desired add more roasted garlic and/or salt and/or pepper.


  • If you don't use garlic scapes 
    • add more basil
    • use a goodly amount of roasted garlic


Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 202mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 429IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2mg