Traditional pesto is made with genovese basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. The flavor is rich, and a little goes a long way. This healthy version has all the flavor of the traditional version without the oil or cheese, and just a touch of fat in the nuts. For a really low-fat version, make the sauce without the nuts and use low-fat silken tofu. And for an unusual twist, try it with arugula instead of the basil.

By Del Sroufe,


  • 2 packed cups basil or arugula
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • ½ package extra-firm silken tofu (about 6 ounces), drained
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)


  • Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, tofu, and nutritional yeast (if using) in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.

Comments (10)

(5 from 8 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Loved this recipe. Tastes just like pesto. Loved that it doesn't have cheese or oil. This is a sure keeper for me


It is so delicious I absolutely love it and can’t believe how wonderful it is ‼️ Whoever made this recipe up I thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️


Really great. Tweak to your taste of course. I sliced whole tomatoes in small pieces to brighten it up and mixed with brown rice. Plenty leftover.


This recipe is a great! I'm learning that I should pretty much double the spices on these recipes to get the flavor profile that I'm looking for. I used roasted sunflower seeds due to nut restrictions at work. I also squeezed a 1/2 lemon into the recipe to make the flavors really pop.


Delicious! Tasty! Excellent! I’m New to vegan cooking and this was surprisingly good!


Tasted off. Very disappointing. I made it with spaghetti and cannelloni beans and added broccoli and cherry tomatoes.


Had to add salt and pepper - but was very tasty ! Husband and daughter didn’t know it had tofu!!

January Grey

I was trying to recreate a pesto recipe from the Luca film with my boyfriend, and found this to be the most compatible with ingredients I already had on hand at home! Initially, I was skeptical about the lack of oil, but I was pleasantly surprised at how versatile this recipe was. I subsituted toasted pine nuts for cashews, basil for spinach, and nutritional yeast for vegan mozzarella. It turned out wonderfully! In the future, I will probably be adding more than the recommended amount of garlic, and salt, and will be adding more liquids to allow for a smoother texture. Overall, it was a wonderful recipe and I will most definitely be making it again!

Angye Jones

To date, this is my most favorite recipe from FOK. I used it over some vegan spinach fettucine & it was great. I plan to look for some vegan tortellini the next time I make the recipe. It is super easy & quick to make. Finding enough basil was a little difficult in my local store though, so I had to go with lightly dried basil instead of fresh.

About the Author

Headshot of Def Sroufe

About the Author

Del Sroufe

Chef Del Sroufe is co-owner and executive chef of Wellness Forum Foods, a whole-food, plant-based meal delivery and catering service in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook and Better Than Vegan. Del teaches cooking classes and helps people transition to a healthy plant-based diet.
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