High Protein & Oil-Free Basil Pesto



I’m a huge fan of anything that can be spread, drizzled, dipped, and of course, spoon fed from a bowl. Over the past couple years, I’ve found my favourite versions of the following:


I’ve had dinner guests beg for these recipes. I’ve had vegan skeptics go weak in the knees over this cheeze spread on a sandwich. I’ve had nephews eat 4 bowls of Mac n cheeze in a row!

I make these recipes again and again because they are quick, healthy, and I tend to have many of the ingredients on hand.

However, I would make pesto much more often (weekly? daily? Each waking hour?) if I didn’t think I would consume a full cup of oil in the span of…4 minutes. I seriously can’t control myself around that stuff. Until olive oil becomes its own food group, I tend to reserve classic pesto for those special occasions. Not to mention, organic cold-pressed olive oil is priced like liquid gold!


But, I’m impatient my friends. And let’s be real, special occasions don’t happen that often when you’re stuck in the country and your only nearby friend is your weirdo cat. Clearly, I need an everyday pesto.

And new friends.

And navy beans in pesto.


Before you think I’ve gone mad, hear me out. When navy beans are processed they add a lovely creamy and rich quality to recipes. I’ve used processed navy beans many times in recipes (like creamy soups!) and I’ve always been pleased with the result. I figured processed navy beans would provide this creamy quality to my pesto without missing the oil. Or so I hoped.


My week off must have been good to me because this pesto surpassed my expectations. Either that, or my standards have just dropped. I can’t be certain.

It called my name from the fridge, only this time, I didn’t have to fight it.



I kid you not, this stuff is addicting. And HEALTHY!


I spread it on bread, along with my favourite cheeze sauce on the other piece.

Now we’re talking.


I grilled tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach for layering.


You can use this pesto as a sandwich spread, mixed into pasta, or as a dip for vegetables and crackers. Really, everything else is simply a vehicle for this pesto to get into your belly. Spoons work great too.



While it’s not exactly like a traditional pesto, I just fell in love with it. Knowing that I was enjoying something naturally fat-free and high in protein made me eat eight times as much. Love that.


1. Green Monster Movement was mentioned in O Magazine in this September’s issue!! Whooo, rock on Green Monster fans!


2. I’m a little late to the party, but I finally figured out how to make an Oh She Glows Facebook Page. Click the image to be taken to the page. Basically, it’s me babbling on to myself…so in other words, totally lame fun. Stop over and say hi!


3. The winner of the Peas and Thank You Cookbook is Val! Congrats! I’ve contacted you this morning via email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

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Marissa Rea August 16, 2016

How long does it last in the refrigerator?


Angela Liddon August 23, 2016

Hey Marissa, I’ve been so busy creating new recipes that I completely forgot about this one! hah. I’m so sorry I don’t have an update for you for storing. I think the flavours would start to change a lot after a few days, so I probably wouldn’t store for longer than that, but let your taste buds be your guide. :)


Andrea August 11, 2016

Hi. Do the beans need to be rinsed and drained?

Thank you,


Angela Liddon August 22, 2016

Hey Andrea, yes, they do! Enjoy the pesto! :)


Katie August 7, 2016

This was great. Only change – I wish I had blended the basil first before adding the beans because yours is a nice green sauce, while mine is a white paste with flecks of green. I mixed it with whole wheat rotini, more white beans, and chopped fresh tomato. Also good with peas or artichoke hearts mixed in. I added a drizzle of extra water and olive oil to make it saucier – and when reheated, added a tiny bit more of both. Will make again.


Jessica July 24, 2016

I just made this basil deliciousness and it’s awesome! There is ZERO need for oil in pesto with this great recipe.


Angela Liddon July 25, 2016

So glad you like it, Jessica!


Meg Angevine May 30, 2016

Love, love, love this pesto! I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that it’s healthy! Thank you for the recipe. I love your cookbook and look forward to the next one.


Robyn Rybarski March 31, 2016

Also avocado could replace the beans.


Nekkidrevenge February 27, 2016

Byw, I occasionally gaze wantonly at the pesto when I’m grocery shopping, pick up a tub, gaze at the nutritional content and see a usual average of 18 grams of fat and 700 mgs of sodium per serving with like 12 servings a container and a serving being like a tbs or two and I’m like “Oh hello nah, I’m making my own damn pesto that I won’t feel like a hippopotamus for eating a cups worth, FFS! >=O” I love love loveeeee the taste of fresh herbs, especially basil, dill, and cilantro so I don’t even think I want to “only eat a spoonful”, I can and will eat a cilantro or basil salad if I can find enough herbs at steal price ,(which isn’t often and I grow my own but I could easily kill a few basil plants in a meal if I didn’t watch myself T_T). And why should you have to limit yourself if it’s purely healthy like when you make it from scratch!


Lina February 14, 2016

This was not good at all, did not taste like pesto. left with a bad aftertaste :(


Monica Lamb January 24, 2016

Hi, Thank you so much! You are amazing! The best. I would bathe myself in pesto if I could. And now that I am pursuing an oil-free life, I am grateful for this recipe.


Livie January 18, 2016

Hi Angela :). I tried this recipe for the first time today and it is absolutely gorgeous! I can’t get over it how much it tastes like having a cheese and pine-nut base. This recipe is definitely a keeper. We had it with wholewheat pasta tonight. The rest of it will be added to the family’s sandwiches.
Thanks so much for this recipe!


Brooke November 26, 2015

Hi Angela! How long can this pesto be stored for? I just got a HUGE bunch of organic basil in my fruit and veg delivery and don’t want to waste it!


Steffen November 2, 2015

Hey Angela!
I just discovered this amazing recipe which sounds like an awesome twist on the classic pesto (’cause i love white beans!) and i would really like to try it, but there’s one question left:
Do i have to use the whole can of beans? Meaning, do i put the beans with the liquid into the blender or do i have to drain them before i add them to the other ingredients? :)

Hope you can answer my silly question ^^

Thnks again for this great sounding recipe :)


Coulinjo June 11, 2017

Rinse, rinse, rinse the beans


Elisabeth October 7, 2015

for some reason (but most probably because I ran out of basil before getting a packed cup of it) my pesto turned out very salty and kind of runny, so I mashed half an avocado in it and tadaaa ! Delicious ! I used this thick avocado-pesto paste in place of the vegenaise in your «tuna» salad, and served over sautéed zucchini noodles. Now everyone at work think I’m some sort of chef :)


Rachel Osborn September 13, 2015

My friends and I had a pesto party and made about 7 different, unique recipes for pesto, ranging from the traditional to vegan and oil free recipes like yours. Your recipe was definitely one of our favorites! Amazing, but the beans really lent a rich flavor and great texture!!


jem September 4, 2015

Should the beans be drained and rinsed?


Patti September 4, 2015

can you freeze this in ice cube trays?


Rachel Osborn September 13, 2015

I froze a small leftover amount in a container and it was just as delicious when it defrosted! Couldn’t tell the difference!


Angelica August 19, 2015

I love all your recipes and I love eating more whole food, but I can’t seem to get past the funkiness of Nutritional Yeast. Maybe it’s just somehting i have to get used to. :(

Have any recommendations for one that you like.


Brenda July 8, 2015

This was awesome, I used a zucchini instead of the cannelloni beans, to keep it raw, as well as adding 3 Tbsp of hemp seeds for creaminess. Turned out great. Thanks


jem July 3, 2015

I haven’t made this yet. Should I assume that the beans should be drained? rinsed? Looks good but I don’t want to waste anything by messing up!


Cristina June 28, 2015

Does it freeze well?


SUE June 28, 2015

Should you drain the beans before putting them in the food processor?


Becki February 15, 2015

How long does this last if you store it? I want to make it but won’t be eating that much everyday…Do I refrigerate it? and how long does it usually keep for?


Lola February 1, 2015

How long can you keep in for?


Poe December 26, 2014

I was really excited about this recipe because pesto can get SO oily, but cutting out the oil out can make the pesto super dry. I think this recipe was fine, but for some reason the consistency was not as wet. I did not use any nutritional yeast though. I would also probably sub out the lemon next time because I felt like it gave the pesto an odd flavor. Love the photography on here!


Leopotato September 19, 2014

I found this recipe right after I discovered all my basil had succumbed to last night’s frost. Oil free! Thanks a bunch!


Bonnie Drager July 30, 2014

Can you substitute cannellini beans for the navy beans?


Vicky July 23, 2014

Tried this recipe today and it’s WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for an oil-free pesto. I can hardly wait to boil up my brown rice pasta and use this as the sauce!



chris July 16, 2014

Just made it, YYYYYUUUUUMMMMM!! I didn’t have nutritional yeast which I’m sure would make it even better.


katharina June 22, 2014

just made it with Kale and it is yum! I am eating now with peppers and onions on it open faced… Perfect brunch food!


Ileana December 26, 2013

oh joy! I lost my oil less pesto recipe that I used to make w/ garbanza beans
Your recipe looks perfect….life is too short to live without pesto:)
Thank you


Mikaela November 13, 2013

This is delicious!! I didn’t have nutritional yeast so I used parmesan cheese and that worked fine. I used butter beans instead of canelli beans also. The only thing is that mine was a bit bitter, I think maybe too much lemon. Great recipe :)


Stacy October 30, 2013

I am soooo making this, and that sandwich looks fabulous! I use cilantro in place of basil to up the metal detox so this should be interesting. Thank you!


Teresa October 23, 2013

I poured this pesto over 3 cans of garbanzo beans for a nice easy dinner


Robin October 8, 2013

This recipe is so creative and it worked out perfectly for me! I’d never thought to include beans in pesto before. My for dinner last night I made a quinoa and veggie salad and my family and I dolloped the pesto on top. Oh my yum. We loved it so much that we’re having the leftover pesto on some whole wheat pasta tonight!


Crystal September 24, 2013

This pesto is absolutely delicious. I spread a thin layer on bread, put on two slices of tomato, top with a smidge of mozzarella and broil. Delicious “pizza” with the perfect pesto flavor. Thank you. :)


Stephanie September 14, 2013

Just made this…omg best. Pesto. Ever… That’s all I have to say


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 14, 2013

So glad you enjoyed it Stephanie!


Diana August 20, 2013

This recipe is great! Thank you for sharing.


Anastasia August 6, 2013

What if I don’t have any nutritional yeast???


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 7, 2013

You might be able to leave it out, although the flavour won’t be as cheesy. if you do remove it, I suggest decreasing the lemon juice a bit as the nutritional yeast often subdues the acidity.


Anastasia August 7, 2013

Thank you very much!


Roberta July 16, 2013

Just made the no oil pesto. WOW I really love this stuff. I use it as a dip, on my salads , as a spread well just about everything so good Love your recipes Thanks for another great one !!


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