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!

Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram (@ohsheglows + @theglowspot), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

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{ 217 comments… read them below or add one }

Jes August 4, 2011

Oh yay! I have all of those ingredients at home! I always find pesto WAY too oily, so this is fantastic! Can’t wait to try it out tonight. :D


Claudine @ The Kathmanduo August 4, 2011

What a coincidence! Today I cooked up a huge pot of navy beans, and I made something very similar — I just used less basil, so the result was more of a basil white bean dip than a basil pesto. I like your idea, though, so the next go-around I will pack in more basil to make it more green :)


Pia @ Bread and Beta August 4, 2011

Love the idea! I add navy beans to lots of recipes but hadn’t thought about adding it to pesto. Thanks!


Bev Weidner August 4, 2011

You are kidding me! This is such an amazing alternative to pesto. Really, this post has stolen my heart and run away with it on horseback. Into the night.


Yolie @ Practising Wellness August 4, 2011

I love your blog SO much! This looks wonderful, and I want to eat that pesto veggie sandwich on the screen right now, lol! :-) Definitely bookmarking for future making! <3 Congratulations on your O Magazine mention, that's incredible! You must be so proud. I admire you so much Angela, for all that you have acheived and for following your dreams…you are an inspiration. And an amazing cook, lol! :-D xyx


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

Thanks Yolie!


Girl in the pink August 4, 2011

What a great idea!! I can’t wait to try it. I love love love pesto and eat it by the spoonful!


Ashley August 4, 2011

That veggie sandwich is just my style! Huge + messy! I have a bunch of cooked chickpeas + a flourishing basil plant…hmmmm :) Congrats on O Magazine! That is so so very exciting.


Lexi @ A Spoonful of Sunshine August 4, 2011

Wow, great minds think alike–I’m currently writing a post on “pesto hummus.”

In other words, deliciousness is happening as we speak :)


Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty August 4, 2011

You rock my dairy free boat!! :)

Guilt Free Pesto ? Let’s just say, my basil plant will be bare naked this weekend!!


Heather (heathers dish) August 4, 2011

Holy sandwich! That bad boy looks amazing…and I love the addition of beans to the mix!


Jennifer August 4, 2011

I WILL be making this this weekend. I need to also try some of your other recipes using the navy beans. Thank you SO MUCH!!


Nikita August 4, 2011

I’ve made a similar dip and called in white bean hummus- I never thought to use it in place of pesto! I am also at a loss for self control around pesto… I bet this spread would be great as a pizza sauce too!


Shannon ~ My Place In The Race August 4, 2011

Oh this sandwich looks amazing! :D


Balancing Sylvia August 4, 2011

You are brilliant and I need a bucket of this. That is all. :)


Paula August 4, 2011

WHOA. That sandwich. I drooled on my keyboard. I am being completely honest when I say that I think that is the most appealing sandwich I have EVER seen!


Rhona August 4, 2011

No way! I was just thinking that I would love to make a pizza with pesto (as I prefer it over tomato base) but pesto is so high in fat. Along comes this recipe!! Angela!! Really?? I am doing a jig on this end. You are so right, most beans I find are really smooth and creamy once blended. Thank you soooo much. Having this low-fat option is amazing. Hm, I am off so I might have to whip up a pizza with this as the base. I feel like I should say…I love you. :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

It would be great on a pizza!


Lisa @ Healthy Diaries August 4, 2011

This looks delicious and I will have to try it! The pesto recipe I use only uses 5 tbsp of oil so it’s actually not the bad, but I love that this is super healthy and has protein in it too!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

5 tbsp is totally doable!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape August 4, 2011

I’ve made something very similar to this and you are totally right about the beans. They add a very nice texture to it. Great recipe!


Zestful Lou August 4, 2011

I am really regretting using my last can of cannelini beans in a hummus FAIL last week! I too love pesto, but rarely eat it because of the high fat content. Thank you for experimenting for me so that no more beans shall go to waste!


Heidi @ Food Doodles August 4, 2011

Oooh, that looks so delicious :D I can’t get enough of basil this year and my plants are actually doing OK. Can’t wait to try this :D


Kat August 4, 2011

this looks so good! what an awesome idea – the beans make it creamy like hummus! I was at the fresh Market the other day, and discovered that on weekends they have a giant bar of salsas, hummuses, pestos and dips set up. Buy by the pound. I practically had to run away – even though I love making my own, there is nothing like instant gratification!


kaila @ healthy helper! August 4, 2011

THIS LOOKS FANTASTIC! I am a pesto addict already but this recipe sounds amazing! I loove the extra protein!!!


Liz August 4, 2011

I love this idea and I can’t wait to try it!!! I have a TON of basil and I have been wondering what I was going to do with all of it since I have been eatting healthy and cutting WAY back on fats and oils! I am so excited to hopefully be able to use up some of my basil!


Claire August 4, 2011

I can’t get over how outstanding your photos are!! Navy beans in pesto?! YUM!


Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats August 4, 2011

This recipe sounds fabulous! :)


Andrea B. @ Vegvacious August 4, 2011

What a fantastic looking pesto! I love how you are able to sneak beans (and take OUT the oil yahoo!) into everything! I’m thinking I need to make some this pesto to add to a grilled meditteranean veggie salad I was planning to make tonight!


Jesse August 4, 2011

This looks delicious! I’m always looking for ways to jazz up my sandwiches and this pesto is perfect. Last night I was making black bean burgers and when I tasted the mix it was delicious so my next kitchen experiment will be a spicy black bean dip.

Also I really liked the color composition you did with the green basil popping and everything else in grey – very cool.


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

Thanks! Good ‘ol Lightroom :)


Kristiana August 4, 2011

Thanks! This is the perfect recipe for the mountain of basil growing in my garden. Hopefully it will freeze well too. : )


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 4, 2011

Aww darn, I wish I wasn’t already eating my lunch right now because this looks so good! I bet it would taste amazing on pizza too. :D


Aine @ Something to Chew Over August 4, 2011

This looks yummy! I hate how oily pesto can be so this looks perfect :)


Shelley @ MileHighHealthy August 4, 2011

Very Interesting recipe! It’s like a basil-y bean dip, I bet it would be delicious spread over little crostinis and topped with sliced cherry tomatoes. I have a whole lotta basil to deal with this summer and I can only take so much traditional pesto (it leaves me with a weighted down feeling, probably from the oil) so this recipe is going on my “to make” list. Thanks!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

Good idea!


Meg | One Love Meg August 4, 2011

This looooooks so yummy! I will be trying this for dinner tonight. If only I had a grill at work :)


Amber K August 4, 2011

Very cool that you have a facebook page now for the blog! Oh and so cool that you were mentioned in Oprah magazine. I gotta have my green smoothies!!

The pesto looks really delicious. Sort of like a mix between a hummus and a pesto. Either way, delicious!


Cat @Breakfast to Bed August 4, 2011

Those mushrooms look so perfect. It looks like I could just pull them off of the screen and eat them.


Mary (What's Cookin with Mary) August 4, 2011

BRILLIANT ! I am definitely going to try this… I see pesto pizza in my future!


Kathryn August 4, 2011

So wow. This might be my favorite post ever so much fantastic stuff! I’m a huge pesto lover but it always makes me feel guilty so I can’t wait to try this. I kind of want to make a bathtub full to roll aroud in it.

O magazine?!?!?! WHAT WHAT!!!!!

I have a facebook problem, I can’t wait to go like your page.

You are magical!


Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] August 4, 2011

O Magazine… as in Oprah!? That’s huge – congrats! :)


Veggie V! @ Veggie V's Vegan Adventure August 4, 2011

Love that this doesn’t have nut, soy, or oil! Can’t wait to try it :-) And, yhea for joining Facebook! Already “liked” your page :-D


Nicole August 4, 2011

I love this idea! I’m so going to bookmark it and give it a whirl!


Clare August 4, 2011

During exams I practically live off pasta pesto as its so easy and quick, but lacking in protein, this looks like the perfect solution! Do you know how long it would be ok to store this in the fridge and if it would be ok to freeze?


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

I’m not certain about storage as its the first time I made it. And umm, we ate it in 2 days time. lol.


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