Oil Free Vegan Pesto Sauce With Tofu And Zucchini Noodles

An oil free and dairy free vegan pesto is something that most of us would have seriously laughed at before going vegan, but I PROMISE you, this is a great and very simple recipe that is loaded with nutrients.

I do make a great pesto with copious amounts of oil that is great for an every now and then dish, but I wanted to create an oil free whole food version that you can happily munch on daily and stay within your calorie limit. One option that supplies a really good creamy texture is subbing the cherry tomatoes for an avocado. I wanted a dish that you could eat on consecutive nights though and avocado will spoil after a short time so that was out. I made a few attempts and the winner was using cherry tomatoes and water. It sounds odd but it really works.

The garlic and chilli work together to help the classic tomato and basil combination, the lemon helps it balance and the pine nuts supply the much needed fat content. The cheesiness comes from the nutritional yeast, which also supplies some extra vitamins, including B12. To get the most out of this recipe, buy the best quality ingredients you can. It is a simple dish and simplicity means that you need to help it along with quality produce.

This is a winner and is a regular round our way. You can make sandwiches and pastas, but I like to make salads with it or serve on a bed of zucchini noodles, as is featured here. Finally, if you are soy free, just take out the tofu, this works just as well with chickpeas or cannellini beans or even as a standalone sauce should protein not be an issue for you.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories = 347
  • Protein = 25.9g
  • Fat = 22g
  • Saturated Fat = 2.3g
  • Carbohydrate = 10.7g
  • Cholesterol = 0g


  •  500g firm tofu, drained and pressed (for at least 15 minutes)
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves (about 2 small batches)
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 60g toasted pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chilli peppers, de-seeded
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 – 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper

Cook it:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 230 degrees CelsiusL
  2. Lay the tofu on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes each side
  3. Meanwhile, add the basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, chilli, nutritional yeast and juice of 1 lemon to a food processor
  4. Pulse a few times and then turn on full for a couple of minutes, scraping down the sides as you go
  5. Add a little water and then keep processing and adding tiny amounts of water until you have the desired creamy consistency. You don’t want to go too mad so be careful
  6. When you have the right consistency, season with salt and pepper and have a taste. Decide if you need to add any more lemon or if the seasoning needs adjusting, you will most likely need some more lemon
  7. If consuming now and require it heated, add the tofu to a saucepan over a medium heat and add the pesto sauce. Heat for a minute or two until warmed. You can now serve with whatever you plan to eat it with or if you are having it later as a cold salad, simply mix the tofu and pesto in a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days
  8. In the photo, I served it on top of some warmed zucchini noodles with a few torn basil leaves and a couple of chopped cherry tomatoes. It was exceptional!
  9. Get it into ya!!


6 thoughts on “Oil Free Vegan Pesto Sauce With Tofu And Zucchini Noodles

  1. Looks great, unfortunately I can’t eat tomatoes on a regular basis – I shouldn’t have them at all, they irritate my skin, but I can’t always resist homegrown! I love avocado. I still can’t get on with tofu. That being said, you done good! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

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