This oil-free vegan pesto pasta salad made with a simple pumpkin seed and parsley pesto makes a great healthy meal! Whether you make it for dinner and enjoy it warm or save it for the next day to take to work or school, it's delicious and filling! To make the pesto oil-free, we are using tahini and the healthy fats that are already naturally present in the pumpkin seeds.
How To Make Oil-Free Vegan Pesto
While I am not strictly against oil and don't mind it if I go out or eat with friends, I try to use little to no oil when I cook at home. That's why most of my recipes on my blog are oil-free. And that's also the reason why I never had pesto for a long time.
Typically, pesto is made with lots of olive oil. If I come across a recipe with lots of oil, I usually don't even bother and just scroll to the next one. But since I wanted to mix things up when it came to my work lunches, I decided to give it another try. Plus, we currently don't have a microwave at the office so anything you can enjoy cold which isn't a quinoa salad, I'm down for it!
To make the pesto oil-free, we are firstly using pumpkin seeds (or sub sunflower seeds). Pumpkin seeds already have a lot of healthy fats in them. So no, this recipe is not fat-free (and healthy fats are important in a balanced diet), but it is refined oil-free.
To make the pesto creamier, I added tahini which means even more healthy fats! I love using tahini to make salad dressings and pasta sauces and now also for pesto!
How To Customize This Oil-Free Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
Feel free to get creative with this recipe and adjust it to your taste! If you don't like pumpkin seeds, you could also use sunflower seeds or cashews. The teaspoon of agave syrup is optional - if you think it's already sweet enough, leave it out. You may want to add a bit more water then.
To add some different flavors to the pesto, you could also add nutritional yeast (for that cheezy flavor, instead of parmesan cheese) or chili flakes. If you're not a fan of peas and bell pepper, I think mushroom and broccoli would also go nicely with this.
Oil-Free Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad with Pumpkin Seed and Parsley Pesto
- 1-2 tsp hot water
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
- In the meantime, prepare the pesto. Add all ingredients for the pesto except the hot water to a high speed blender or food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until you get a creamy pesto. Now add the hot water a tablespoon at a time until you have the desired consistency.
- Cut the bell pepper into small pieces and half the cherry tomatoes. Defrost the peas in the microwave.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to a large mixing bowl together with the pesto and remaining ingredients. Give it a good mix and serve warm or store in the fridge for up to a couple of days.