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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{ 216 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley August 5, 2011

Oh yeah! I know what I am doing with that pile of basil I have growing now! Picking up navy beans and nutritional yeast (not something I am farmilar with but I am going to give it a try). Can’t wait to try this:)
Thanks again Angela


Tom August 5, 2011

I gotta give this a try. I’ve made a similar recipe with a couple of avacodoes instead of the beans, but, it gets costly.


Karen August 6, 2011

Thought I would tell you that I made this today and it is awesome! Had it on a sandwich earlier and will mix it with pasta tonight for dinner. Thanks!


Mara Matic August 7, 2011

Okay, so I’ve been following your blog for awhile now. NEVER would have thought that I’d EVER leave comments on a blog as I simply don’t want to get involved as I know it will eat up more time that I already don’t have (mom of 2 boys, 1yr & 3yrs (3 including hubby, heehee) and work f/t). Well, you’ve got me Angela!!!! I just love your style post and foremost your recipes and you! Every recipe I’ve made has been a hit! We are not a vegan family but I love homemade food and healthy, tasty food. How did I find you? Well, I started a new job in February and I joined this Wellness Committee. I attended this potluck and there, I came across vegan peanutbutter cups. I was smitten. So as soon as I got home I started googling recipes. Low and behold, I was blessed to come across a recipe for yours and then some!!!! Thank you for your brilliance, creativity, thought, wisdom, and making our lives healthier and happier. We tired a green monster last week (classic) after a run and Richard (hubby) says I can make that any night too:-) Hope you enjoyed the wedding and look fwd to pics!!:-) Mara


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 7, 2011

Hi Mara! Thank you so much for the amazing compliments! Im so lucky to have your support. I hope you enjoy many more recipes to come!


Emily August 7, 2011

This was amazing! One of my favorite recipes of yours! Such an affordable, high-protein meal in disguise. My boyfriend (who is not a bean lover) had no idea I put beans in it until we finished eating and i broke the news.


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 7, 2011

So happy to hear that Emily!


Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) August 7, 2011

Congrats on the mention in O magazine! That is HUGE!!!


Jen August 7, 2011

This looks really tasty, I’m defintely going to make it. And well done on the magazine mention, that’s brilliant!


Chelsey (Cookteen) August 7, 2011

Just made this…I’m in love! I hate cheesy + oily pestos so this was perfect!


BLACKBEAUTY54 August 7, 2011

I will give it a try.


Jeffie August 8, 2011

This is so delicious!! I made some and was wondering if it freezes well? :)


Zestful Lou August 8, 2011

Just made this and it’s DEEEEEEE-Lish!!! I found that 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice was PLENTY for my taste. Until now, my hummus-type dips have all be sub-par, but this is my first true success! Merci!


Lisa August 8, 2011

Do you drain the can of beans? I’m a newbie cook, and need major details.



Angela (Oh She Glows) August 8, 2011

Yes you do! Enjoy =)


Merage August 9, 2011

Love this! I have been going through a similar need to use less olive oil dilemma and NEEDED pesto so I made an AH-MAZING no oil added sun dried tomato pesto. Twas grand. I did add a little Parmesan, but tasting it before, it didn’t really need any. I used cashews, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, tomato sauce, parsley, sea salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of balsamic. I’m sure you could come up with an even more awesome version, but just thought I’d share mine. :)


Emma (Emma+Jacob) August 9, 2011

I looooove this! Quick question, how long does this keep in the fridge?


Heather August 19, 2011

I made my this Monday and ate my last serving on Thursday. It was still good then but I don’t think I would have let it go any longer. No worries though, you won’t have it sticking around too long!


Jennifer August 9, 2011

This is a great low-fat alternative to pesto! I really enjoy reading your blog- your recipes are so creative and delicious!


Amber August 11, 2011

This white bean pesto is great! I kind of want to eat this for every meal for the foreseeable future. It is the perfect complement to summer tomatoes. I had a wrap for lunch and now I’m dreaming of having a pita pizza with the pesto and tomatoes. Thanks for the the recipe, it’s a keeper!


Aly August 12, 2011

This was pretty good! I omitted the nutritional yeast (didn’t have any) and next time I will definitely reduce the amount of lemon juice to 1 tbsp and maybe try no salt at first (gradually will add in). But a good recipe for sure!


Farrah August 12, 2011

made this pesto to have with rosemary white bean burgers….. delicious! gonna use the leftovers with pasta! yum!


Krysten August 18, 2011

this was so good- i love pesto soooo so much and its got so many calories so i appreciate this recipe so much! i also made up my own from this instead of basil, did cilantro and added a serrano chile,…. it’s so addicting, i’ve ate it everyday -put it on what i could- today i am going to make your basil cream sauce, and i’m really excited about it! thanks so much again!


Heather August 19, 2011

Oh my gosh, this was amazing! I’m trying to talk sweetly to my basil plants to produce more leaves so I can have it again soon. Even with subbing a bit of oil for the water the calorie and fat count let me have a huge plate. Yum!


Jessica August 30, 2011

this was incredible! unfortunately i couldn’t stop eating it! the more basil, the better!


SIDNEY CAMPBELL September 23, 2011

can not wait to try the white bean pesto!!!!!! sounds awesome…thanks


Josephine April 15, 2012

This was delicious over my gnocchi! I didn’t have nutritional yeast but I added a bit of parsley and I really liked it :)


Monique April 15, 2012

Be careful with the salt. The can of beans I used was not “m
No salt added” and without really thinking about it, I added a half tsp., so it’s too salty. Also, I added some pine nuts just because I like the taste and was hoping to dull the saltiness somewhat.


sally July 22, 2012

did you drain and rinse the navy beans?


Angela (Oh She Glows) July 22, 2012

Hey Sally, Yes I did. Enjoy!


T. N. T. August 1, 2012

Thank you for such a simple and wonderful pesto replacement recipe! Trying this today.


Andrea August 6, 2012

Do you drain/rinse the beans before adding them in?


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 6, 2012

Yup :)


Stefanie August 21, 2012


I think I do not need a spoon – I’ll simply lick it directly out of the food processor…NOTE TO MYSELF: remove the blades first!

Thank you, Angela, for this recipe. Since I am half Italian I naturally have a love for Italian food, especially pesto and antipasti. This combo just sounds so delish, I cannot wait to get home tonight and try it – hopefully I will get some for myself because two of our four cats LOVE beans and greens…


amandaginn September 3, 2012

Have you ever tried freezing this recipe?


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 3, 2012

Im sorry I haven’t! let me know if you try it out.


Crystal November 11, 2012

This looks fabulous and my basil plant is getting ready to die in this chilly weather! How do you store this? I was going to make it now but use it later. Also have you tried freezing it? Thanks!


Stephanie December 29, 2012

This is so freaking good I could eat it on cardboard!!!!! TY!!!


Mary February 6, 2013

Delicious! Absolutely wonderful, thank you!

I used it in a grilled tomato and Daiya Mozzarella cheese sandwich…yum!

I wonder if adding some nuts during the process would give it a good texture- I’ll try that next time.


Taylor February 8, 2013

I love this recipe! I was searching for a pesto recipe because I had a ton of leftover basil and yours was perfect. I love that it doesn’t have nuts it in or all of the oil that is usually in pesto. It’s so creamy. I just made a pesto, daiya (mozz), and chickpea quesadilla with it and it was amazing!


Courtney February 9, 2013

Absolutely love this. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Oh She Glows and I think I found my favorite new site! Delicious, creamy, versatile. Can use it as a spread, on pasta, I even used it as a base for a pizza (instead of pizza sauce). Thank you SO much – what a creative way to replace the oil. Thank you Thank you!


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2013

Hey Courtney, Im so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know…great idea about a pizza base!


Steph February 18, 2013

I’ve just made this – well a version of it – and it is DELICIOUS! I subbed spinach for basil since I don’t have any, and added a half teaspoon of oil and some chopped tomatoes and it is amazing! Thank you :)


Morgan February 25, 2013

I just made this and it was delicious. Mine wasn’t very green so I added a handful of spinach and it became my new favorite pesto!! Thanks for this recipe :) I will probably be freezing some in ice cube trays (perfect 2 tbsp portion) so I will let you know how they thaw out!


Julia May 3, 2013

You’re right, spoons away! I think there was about a 3 second lapse from the time the pesto was poured into the jar to the point where the spoon broke the surface. (3 seconds is being verrrrry generous).
Thank you!!


Jess July 10, 2013

Just found u today, but I’ll be back! Made this and it was great! Can’t wait to dig through the archives for more yummies!!!


Elle July 12, 2013

I have been looking for an oil free pesto recipe for a long time. I came across yours last night, made the pesto this afternoon and it was SOOOOOOO DELISH!!!! I literally had to stop myself from eating it directly from the blender. Thanks for the recipe – AMAZING!!!


Fiona July 13, 2013

This was so yummy! I added 2 T of olive oil and tossed it with pasta, summer squash, heirloom tomatoes, and spinach. So creamy! My hubby Eric and I decided it needs to be put on the repeat-worthy list!


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