Delicious pea pesto pasta that is perfect for spring and summer! This vegan pesto is gluten free, nut free and oil free.
The perfect spring and summer dish
This pea pesto pasta is a very light and refreshing dish that can be served during spring and summer. The best part is that it can be eaten hot or cold. You can totally make it ahead of time and serve it as a cold pasta salad. However, it's also great over a big bowl of warm spaghetti. I'd recommend a pea & mint pesto for the pasta salad and a pea & basil pesto for a warm meal.
The best part is that it is vegan, nut free and oil free. We all know the struggle of making a dish that will suit everyone at a family get-together or summer party. There's always someone that is vegan, has a gluten free intolerance, or is on a diet (no judging of course!). So this is the perfect meal to accommodate everyone.
Struggling to make your kids eat enough veggies? This vegan pesto recipe is perfect to sneak some more vegetables into their diet without them noticing.
How to make a nut free and oil free pesto
To make a pesto that is vegan, nut free and oil free you have to swap a few simple ingredients.
- Replace olive oil with vegetable broth to make oil free pesto. It gives the pesto so much flavor while facilitating the blending process.
- Replace pine nuts with sunflower seeds to make nut free pesto. I like to roast sunflower seeds for a toasted flavor.
- Avoid parmesan cheese. If you really miss the cheesy flavor you could add 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
The other pesto essentials that need to be included in every pesto recipe are:
- Lemon juice: for a fresh and zesty touch.
- Herbs: traditional pesto recipe use basil. You could however also use mint. This pea pesto pairs well with both mint or basil.
- Sea salt: pesto has to be adequately salt as it is usually used as a sauce for pasta. I personally like to use coarse sea salt.
Step-by-step with pictures
Prepare the main ingredients. Cook the peas in boiling water until soft. Dry-roast the sunflower seeds in a pan (no oil needed) until golden brown.
Blend. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. The pesto should not be too thick nor too thin (see right picture for texture).
Make ahead and storage tips
Make-ahead tips: you can totally make this pea pesto pasta ahead of time. Store the pesto and the pasta in separate air-tight containers in the fridge until serving time. You can make it up to two days ahead. I also recommend adding 2-3 additional tablespoons of vegetable broth to the pesto as it can thicken when cooling down.
Storage tips: you can store the pesto and the pasta in the fridge in separate air-tight containers for two days. If already combined, eat it within the next 24 hours.
Substitutions and add-ons
- Substitute mint for basil, especially if you don't like mint with pasta. If you like both, I'd recommend a pea & mint pesto for the pasta salad and a pea & basil pesto for a warm bowl of pasta (since this pesto can be eaten hot or cold).
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
More pasta and salad recipes
- Pasta with creamy avocado-mint sauce and zucchini
- Simple tomato and artichoke pasta salad
- Raw cabbage salad with vegan peanut dressing
- Buckwheat salad with vegan garlic dressing
Pea pesto pasta (vegan, nut free, oil free)
- 200 g frozen peas
- 100 g sunflower seeds
- 200 ml vegetable broth or dissolve ½ bouillon cube in 200 ml boiling water
- ½ lemon
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder use a little less than ¼ tsp
- 1 pinch of salt depending on how salty your broth is
- 2-3 sprigs of mint* or basil
- Cook the peas accoring to instructions (usually boiling them in hot water for several minutes).
- While the peas are cooking, dry-roasted the sunflower seeds in a pan without oil over medium-high heat (see post above for step-by-step pictures). Wait until they are golden brown. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
- Drain the peas and ass them to a food processor**. Add the roasted sunflower seeds, vegetable broth, juice of half a lemon, garlic powder and salt. Blend until creamy.
- Remove the mint leaves from their sprig and add them to the blender. Blend until smooth. Serve over pasta*.
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