Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto Pasta recipe by Joyful Balance

Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto

Hello, my chickpeas! I don’t know about you, but one of my absolute favorite ways to eat my greens is through pesto. Pesto has always been one of my favorite sauce options, and if you haven’t had it homemade you are in for a treat! Say hello to my Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto!

Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto recipe by Joyful Balance: Vegan, WFPB, and Oil Free

This pesto basically combines all of my favorite flavors. It’s nutty from the cashews and pine nuts, it’s savory and slightly cheesy from the nutritional yeast, it’s got some freshness from the greens, and it’s slightly creamy from the avocado. It’s so easy to throw this one together, and I love making a big batch of it and serving it on pasta for easy meals throughout the week.

Let’s get into it!

Inspiration for Vegan Avocado Pesto

Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto with pine nuts and cashews

I’ve made MANY pestos in my time. There’s certain things they all have in common – typically they all have basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and some sort of cheesy component. While I don’t think I’ve ever met a pesto that I specifically didn’t like, I have noticed that I get especially excited about a pesto when it is a little outside the norm. I love adding extra greens to compliment the basil, or adding in a few different types of nuts to make the flavor more interesting. And my absolute favorite pestos are ones that incorporate avocado for some creaminess!

I basically took everything I’ve learned from my pesto experience, and made my own version that incorporates all of my favorite things. Plus, I even made it oil-free! After a few tests to find my favorite combination of ingredients, this Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto was born.

IngredientsVegan Avocado Pesto Pasta with pine nuts and plant based parmesan

This recipe is basically a combination of all my favorite things. Here’s what we are working with today:

  • Basil, spinach, and arugula: a pesto obviously has to have some greens! I love this combination because you still get the traditional fresh basil flavor, but some added flavors as well. You get a hint of a peppery taste from the arugula, and a mild sweetness from the spinach.
  • Pine nuts and cashews: pine nuts are the more traditional choice here, but they pair very well with cashews. After a few tests, I decided that the combination of the two was the tastiest option!
  • Nutritional yeast: as mentioned above, most pestos have some sort of cheesy element. Often they include parmesan cheese, but we like to keep things plant based here! Nutritional yeast is a great option for pestos because it has a savory, slightly cheesy flavor, but without any animal product!
  • Lemon juice and garlic: some additional flavor boosters!
  • Avocado: for some creaminess! Since we aren’t using oil in this recipe, the avocado (and the nuts) also add some healthy fats to make sure this pesto is both delicious and filling!

How to Make Vegan Avocado Pesto

Plant Based Avocado Pesto Pasta with basil, spinach, and arugula

We typically strive for simple here, and this one is extra simple! As always, keep scrolling for the full recipe. But here’s the gist:

  1. Blend most ingredients (other than the avocado) in a high speed blender.
  2. Combine with avocado 
  3. Add salt as needed
  4. If adding to pasta: cook pasta, and then stir in pesto to evenly incorporate
  5. Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

Vegan Avocado Pesto for pasta or sandwiches

I love encouraging you guys to make my recipes your own. So here are some ideas for you:

  • I did a lot of tests to find the combination of ingredients that I thought was the most delicious. However, this recipe is super versatile. If you’re feeling adventurous, try switching out the greens for other greens of choice (kale could also be fun!), or trying other nut combinations (macadamia nuts might add a sweet twist!).
  • I mostly eat this one with pasta, but get creative with it! You could use it as a spread on sandwiches, on toast as a fun take on “avocado” toast, or with roasted veggies! My only warning is that I wouldn’t recommend using this as a sauce on pizza (or anything else where the pesto is directly heated), as the avocado may not react well to the heat.
  • Step 2 of this recipe gives you two different options based on how smooth or chunky you want your pesto. I personally go for the second option that makes it slightly chunky. But it’s based on personal preference, so go with the first option if you’d prefer it to be ultra smooth! 
  • This pesto only takes about 10 minutes to prepare. If you’re serving it with pasta, I recommend letting your pasta cook while you make the pesto to make the best use of your time!
  • In the mood for more pestos? You can also check out my Maple Walnut Pesto on the blog, or my Basil Lemon Pesto in my free ebook!

Enjoy!

Vegan Avocado Pesto

Recipe by Delaney Romero – Joyful BalanceCourse: Condiment, SauceCuisine: Italian
Servings

4

servings
From Start to Finish

10

minutes

This Vegan Avocado Pesto is about to be a new staple in your kitchen. It has the traditional basil flavor that we all know and love from typical pestos, but with some fun twists! The extra greens make it even more nutritious, and the avocado gives it a creamy texture. Stir this one into pasta, use as a topping on roasted veggies, or use as a spread on sandwiches! Please note that it is not recommended to use this as a pizza sauce (or anything else where the pesto is directly heated), as the avocado may not react well to direct heat.

Note that “From Start to Finish” is an estimate for just making the pesto itself – be sure to also calculate how long it will take to prepare whatever you are serving the pesto with (such as pasta).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 1/2 cup arugula

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 avocado

  • salt, to taste

Directions

  • Add all ingredients, other than avocado, to a high speed blender. Blend until you get a slightly chunky texture.
  • Depending on how smooth you’d like your pesto, choose one of the following options:
    For super smooth pesto: scoop out the avocado flesh and add to the blender. Continue to blend until pesto reaches desired consistency.
    For a slightly chunkier texture: scoop out the avocado flesh and mash the avocado in a bowl. Add pesto to the mashed avocado, and stir to combine.
  • Add salt to taste
  • Serve as desired and enjoy! This one is great on pasta or as a sandwich sauce.

Happy cooking, friends! If you made this recipe don’t forget to tag me (@joyfulbalanceofficial) on facebook or instagram so I can cheer you on for your pesto-making ways.

Stay Joyfully Balanced!

15 Comments

  1. This looks delicious! I love pesto and this recipe has some unique ingredients! I’ll be trying this soon.

  2. I love the colors and presentation of this dish. It’s so visually appealing!

  3. This looks absolutely delicious! Will definitely try it out!

  4. This avocado pesto is something special! Loved it with pasta for a yummy dinner!

  5. I am loving the idea of avocado pesto. I have evreything needed to make this, and making this for lunch.

  6. This creamy vegan avocado pesto is delicious! I love how flavorful and filling it is!

  7. Pingback: Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce (& Spread)! - Joyful Balance

  8. This creamy vegan avocado pesto is just perfect! It has the most amazing pesto flavor, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. The recipe is easy to follow.

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