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 }

Laura August 4, 2011

Pesto is so delish, but I rarely have it cause of all the oil and expense. Great alternative!
Woooh! Green monsters mentioned in oprah, congrats.


Tess August 4, 2011

Navy beans…. who’da thunk?! You, that’s who! Another amazing recipe :)


Karen August 4, 2011

I’ve been considering concocting a pizza with a pesto sauce rather than tomato sauce. Do you think this pesto spread would hold up well in that capacity? I might have to try it, I’m intrigued to see if it would be any good!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

yessss! It worked for me. Check out my PFB pizza post with recipes: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/17/project-food-blog-challenge-5-a-pizza-complex/

It was one of the best pizzas Ive ever had!


Cassey @ Blogilates.com August 4, 2011

OMG that looks so good. I am a 1 month old vegetarian and have not been craving meat at all…with recipes like this, who would? Thank you. Amazing photos as always.


Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn August 4, 2011

Thank goddddd I have been looking for a less-fatty pesto so that I can actually eat a shit ton of it!!!! Love <3


Kelly August 4, 2011

Must invest in a food processor. This looks amazing!


Jane August 4, 2011

Your sandwich looks sooooo good! I’ve been craving a good veggie sandwich lately. I must try this pesto (and cheese sauce). I just wish I had a yard with a garden where I could plant big bushes of pesto. Maybe I’ll pot a small plant in my apartment :)

Really want to try your new burger recipe soon too!


Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend) August 4, 2011

OMG yes yes yes yes yes! I am obsessed with pesto but rarely eat it since it is so high in fat/calories and I can never eat an appropriate serving size. This rules! I cannot wait to try this recipe.

Any chance you’d like to do the same makeover for cheese sauce??? :) FIngers crossed!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

You read my mind girl ;)


Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit August 4, 2011

Ya, ya navy beans are ridiculously creamy! I mash them up with all sorts of things, but I’ve never called it pesto. Geez, you’re good. You can also make a type of “mayo” out of them with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a bit of brewers yeast. So good.


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

That sounds great! Ive been looking for a tofu free mayo recipe.


Katrina August 4, 2011

This is a wicked good idea! Pack in that protein! Yum.


Emily August 4, 2011

Yum!!!! I love pesto!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 4, 2011

Angela these sandwich shots are just BEAUTIFUL! WOW!!! They are so vibrant, crisp, clear. And the composition is just lovely (Can you tell Ive been hanging out with photographers in a workshop all week…haha!)

Seriously beautifully plated AND the recipe itself..nothing like eating dips and spreads that are made with (too much) oil and you get that oil slick feeling on your lips…yeah…not exactly my fave.

This pesto clearly won’t do that and it sounds amazing. Love nooch!


Linda W. August 4, 2011

THANK YOU! I have a basil plant going crazy and been meaning to hunt for a recipe that doesn’t include pine nuts. To me they are okay but there has to be a better recipe. I’m sure this will be outstanding and just the pictures of the sandwich makes me drool! YUM! Healthy food is so nice to look at AND eat.


Ellie@fitforthesoul August 4, 2011

Ooooh I love this recipe!! It’s just like hummus, but pesto!! I am a fan of dippable stuff as well :)


Ariel August 4, 2011

OMG you read my mind…I’ve been eating pesto like everyday this summer…it’s gotten to the point where I just spread it on broccoli or brussel sprouts in an attempt to be healthy. What a great idea to add the beans! Thank youu


Annie@stronghealthyfit August 4, 2011

That sandwich looks unbelievable! I think i’d love that pesto.


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen August 4, 2011

I love the idea of nutritional yeast in pesto, that’s such a good substitute for the parmesan cheese, can’t believe I haven’t thought of that! I tend to make my pesto light on the olive oil anyway so it’s not as liquidy but I love using beans in it too. Definitely a twist worth trying!


Living, Learning, Eating August 4, 2011

Have I mentioned that your food always looks way to delicious? I wish you had a cafe, I would def fly all the way to Canada for that!

And I love Green Monsters! I made a tasty one the other day (http://livinglearningeating.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/run-its-a-green-monster/) but just made an AMAZINGLY delicious one…I’ll post it tomorrow (Friday) by 8am :)


Molly August 4, 2011

You can send that sandwich to me please.


Heather @ Get Haalthy with Heather August 4, 2011

Looks delicious! I’m always down with a pesto I can eat every day. A lot.

Go green monsters!


Kiran @ KiranTarun.com August 4, 2011

Mmmm.. That sandwich itself looks so delish.
Glad to know O is embracing what we all love so much – green monster :D


Amy-Nutrition by Nature August 4, 2011

Wow, that pesto looks awesome. I love pesto too and could eat it all day, thanks for this recipe!


Amy@ahealthyandhappyheart August 4, 2011

congrats on green monster being in the mag! thats awesome! You introduced me to the “movement” and my body is thankful! umm and your pesto…lovely!


Lindsey @ Why Just Eat August 4, 2011

I just picked up a large bag of basil at the farmer’s market this morning. Thanks to you, I will be sure to put it to good use!


Charissa August 4, 2011

This is nothing short of awesome!
Good on you for getting a FB page! I’m ALMOST there, lol…soon!


Emma (Emma+Jacob) August 4, 2011

This is amazing! I cannot wait to try it. Pesto sauce brings life to anything! A close second to my ultimate love – Sriracha :D

Welcome to Facebook!


Alexandra (Veggin' Out in the Kitchen) August 4, 2011

Haha, I cannot control myself around pesto either! It disappears pretty fast in my house ;)
Your pesto looks truly fabulous!! I love how you pack some protein in there. I really can’t get over how incredibly delicious it looks!! I MUST make it soon! :D



Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen August 4, 2011

Wow – yummmm!!!! I have everything but the white beans. Do you think garbanzos would work?


Kath August 4, 2011

Going to eat my pesto sandwich mid-flight now!!!


Amanda August 4, 2011

Perfect timing for this post, because the BF and I are going to make pesto with garbanzo beans this weekend with all the basil we have from our pots. I never thought of using nutritional yeast…what a great idea for a sub for the parm cheese! Genius!


Emily @ Comfortable Home Life August 4, 2011

I LOVE pesto! I frequently make my own, but you’re right, it’s so full of oil! Plus real Parmesan isn’t veg-friendly. I must try your version — I wasn’t expecting the navy beans but I imagine (and trust you when you say) they work quite well!


katie@ KatieDid August 4, 2011

This look amazing! I love homemade pesto


Cupcake Kat August 4, 2011

I love pesto. This recipe sounds so delicious. I liked you on FB. I just got one too


Jess @ littlegirlbigappetite August 4, 2011

Yum and its oil free! I’m sold!


val August 4, 2011

Oh, I’m sooo lucky to have won the book giveaway. Thank you Angela (and Sarah). I plan to make the pesto recipe this weekend, using beans instead of oil is genius.


hanna August 4, 2011

hi, i just wanted to tell you that i discovered your blog recently, and i’m so inspired to be in the kitchen for hours on end. i just did a post on my blog on your flourless chocolate cookies- and they were eaten up quickly. thank you so much for all the recipes you share! i’m trying to eat more vegan and gluten-free, and i am so glad to find a wealth of info all in one place that caters to those diets. i don’t even know what i’m going to try next :)


Beach Bum Beauty August 5, 2011

I love Pesto and am glad you did an oil free recipe as I sometimes find that it repeats in me or leaves a funny taste in my mouth. Have a fab friday :-)


Shelley August 5, 2011

Wow that pesto looks sooo good seriously if i make this, i mean WHEN i make this :) i think i will just eat it with a spoon! HEy how do you make it so the pics are black and white with just the green basil leaves, is it done in photoshop??


Katherine August 5, 2011

Looks amazing!


Sarah S. August 5, 2011

Hi Angela! Only problem with this is surely I’d eat the entire batch in a go…


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