Plant-based Pesto Pasta

There is no question that I love pasta. I mean who doesn’t, right? 

When we first started eating clean one of the first things, we did was switch out white refined pastas for whole wheat and whole grain pastas.  Since then, we have never turned back. There is just something about whole grain pasta that gives pasta dishes an extra added flavor, and not to mention is full of fiber, it is one of the staples in a plant-based diet.

When we first moved our lifestyle towards plant-based in May of 2020, my goal was to make some of our clean eating dishes more plant-based and this plant-based pesto pasta was one of the first dishes I created. 

Normally before going plant-based our pesto was normally made using oil and parmesan cheese, but now that we were a dairy-free family and limiting the amount of oil we ate, my goal was to find a replacement for both without sacrificing flavor.

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After a few trials, I came up with this recipe. A major staple in a lot of plant-based dishes is nutritional yeast, and for this recipe, it was the perfect replacement to parmesan cheese.  I did not end up finding a replacement for oil, but found that there was no need to replace the oil, the recipe had enough great flavor, but if you are looking for more of a thinner texture, you can always add a little water to the blender and it is a great substitute.


We used brown rice pasta to make this dish, not only because it is one of our favorite whole-grain pastas, but because it is a great alternative for those that are looking for gluten-free pasta options.

The equipment you will need includes:

• Knife

• Blender or Food Processor

• Medium Sauce Pan

Basil is one of my favorite herbs and is part of the mint family another one of my favorite herbs.  One thing that we did as a family was to purchase our very first Tower Garden from Dish and Bliss.

Our Tower Garden from Dish and Bliss was one of the best investments we made this year.

As a clean food blogger, having access to fresh food is so important to me and my family.  One of the first foods we grew was sweet basil.  It not only tastes delicious; I have purchased it from the grocery store in the past and there were times the leaves wilted before we could use it in our dishes. This time, we were able to get fresh basil from our garden which made this dish even more flavorful. 

This dish was approved by both of my teenage boys and is a dish that is requested a lot in our house.

It is so easy to make and can be made in under 30 minutes.

Plant-based Pesto Pasta

Plant-based Pesto Pasta

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This plant-based pesto pasta is dairy-free and oil-free and made using all real food ingredients.


  • 1 Box of Brown Rice Pasta Shells
  • 5-6 Grape Tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • 1 Cup of Fresh Basil
  • 1 Cup Pinenuts, rinsed
  • 1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Medium Lemon, squeezed
  • 7 Medium Garlic Cloves
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • Water as needed


  1. In a medium sauce pan add water and bring to boil.
  2. Add in pasta, reduce heat to medium and cook until done.
  3. Remove from heat, strain, and set aside.
  4. While the pasta is cooking in a blender or food processor add in the basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and blend. Add in water as needed to make it a smooth consistency.
  5. Add in the Pesto sauce to the drained pasta, and sliced tomatoes and mix together thoroughly. Add it back on medium-low heat and cook for about another 5-7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and serve.

Easy Vegan Pesto (Dairy-Free and Oil-Free)

Easy Vegan Pesto (Dairy-Free and Oil-Free)

Yield: Clean Food Mama
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This dairy-free pesto is oil-free and quick and easy to make. Add it to your favorite pasta dish, pizza, or enjoy as a salad dressing.


  • 2 cups of Fresh Basil
  • 1/4 Cup Pinenuts, rinsed
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 medium Lemon, squeezed
  • 3-4 Medium Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Salt (Optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp Water (or as needed)


In a blender or food processor add in basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and blend.

Scrape down the sides as needed and blend again.

Add in water as needed to make it a smooth consistency.

Serve and enjoy!


You can refrigerate leftovers for up to 7 days.

For a more cheesy flavor, add in more nutrtional yeast.

For a nut-free version, replace the pine nuts with seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp seeds).

Add it to pizza, sandwiches, salad, or pasta dishes.

Making it a great dish for busy families. You can also make extra and store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking.

Stephanie Collazo, MS, CHC is the founder of Clean Food Mama, to help you get more plants into your diet. She shed 170 lbs by incorporating a whole foods plant-based diet and loves empowering other women to create healthy habits for themselves and their families.