Vegan Spinach Pesto is super easy to make in minutes with just a handful of ingredients. It uses spinach instead of basil, is oil free, dairy-free, and gluten free. Enjoy it on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, or as a dip for raw veggies or crackers.
I absolutely love pesto! It’s one of my favorite pasta toppings, right up there with Alfredo sauce. But a few years back I was craving pesto, and didn’t want to pay the high prices of fresh basil in the winter.
Sure there are store bought pestos, and a few of them are actually vegan. But they contain lots of oil, a traditional ingredient in pesto. Not at all suitable for an oil free vegan diet.
That mid-winter craving was what prompted me to make this delicious vegan spinach and walnut pesto. I hadn’t thought about it in a while, and decided it deserves a spot on the blog.
It’s an affordable option, with a delicious fresh taste! And it’s made with only 6 ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of water to thin it to your desired consistency.
I also have a recipe for an oil free vegan basil pesto that’s absolutely delicious. I try to grow basil every summer just so I can make it!
Ingredients for vegan spinach pesto
- Spinach leaves – many types of leafy greens can be used to make pesto. The spinach has a nice fresh taste, and is a good source of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, folate, and potassium.
- Garlic – I love a garlicky pesto, so I’ve used 3 cloves. Adjust this to your taste preference.
- Nutritional Yeast – this adds a cheesy nutty flavor to replace the parmesan cheese. It’s a good source of vitamin B12.
- Lemon Juice – gives a bright citrus flavor.
- Walnuts – I like using walnuts because I almost always have them on hand, and they’re are a more affordable option than pine nuts. There are many other nuts and seeds that can be used including cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, pistachios, or hemp seeds.
- Dried Basil – I added some dried basil to give it more of a traditional pesto flavor.
- Salt and Pepper – to round out the flavor.
How to make this pesto
If you’re using a fresh bunch of spinach (or you’re lucky enough to have home grown spinach), place it in a large bowl to rinse off any dirt. Drain the spinach and dry it in a salad spinner.
If you’re using bagged spinach that is pre-washed, you can skip this step.
Transfer the spinach to a food processor.
Chop the walnuts and the garlic. Place them in a food processor along with the spinach.
Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Pulse until chopped.
Add a tablespoon of water and processing on low until completely blended. You can leave the pesto a bit chunky, or process until smoother. If you want a thinner consistency, add another tablespoon of water.
Taste for seasonings and adjust as you desire.
There are so many ways to enjoy vegan spinach pesto!
- Use as a pasta sauce. It’s delicious mixed with cooked pasta of your choice or even layering in a vegan lasagna.
- Spread on sandwiches. Add some delicious flavor by using this spinach pesto as a condiment on your sandwiches and. wraps
- Garnish your soups. A dollop of this on your soup will add another layer of flavor.
- Dress your salads. It’s also delicious as a salad dressing – just mix in a bit more water or broth to thin it to a salad dressing consistency.
- Use it as a dip. This delicious pesto makes a great dip for raw veggies and crackers. You can even mix it into some hummus or vegan cream cheese.
- Toss with roasted vegetables. It makes a very tasty coating on roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and more!
Frequently asked questions
If you’re not serving this pesto right away, or have leftovers, store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 4 to 5 days.
Yes. This pesto can be frozen for up to 3 months. Transfer it to a freezer bag or other air tight container. A handy way to freeze it is to spoon it into an ice cube tray and transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag.
There are so many options! Basil is the tradition green used for pesto, but other herbs like cilantro, parsley, and mint are great options. Other leafy green like spinach, kale, arugula, swiss chard, and carrot tops work as well.
More Oil Free Vegan Condiments and Sauces
- Vegan Tofu Mayo
- Cashew Cheese Sauce
- Vegan Chipotle Mayo
- Roasted Garlic Hummus
- BBQ Sauce
- Easy Enchilada Sauce
- Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
- Oil Free Marinara
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Berry Sauce
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Vegan Spinach Pesto
- 4 packed cups spinach leaves
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon water or more as needed
- If you're using a fresh bunch of spinach, place it in a large bowl of water to clean off any dirt. Drain it and dry it in a salad spinner. This step isn't necessary if you are using bagged spinach that has been pre-washed.
- Add the spinach, nutritional yeast, chopped walnuts, dried basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop it up.
- Add a tablespoon of water and process on low until it is blended. If it is too thick, add more water a teaspoon at a time to get it to your desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.