September 05, 2012

Creamy Vegan Tofu Basil Pesto Sauce

Creamy Vegan Tofu Basil Pesto Sauce

Remember when I discovered that I can eat tofu when it's disguised in a dip?  And that it can add a silky creaminess to a dip without you even being able to taste it?  Well I decided to see if this same magic would also work in a pasta sauce, and guess what?  It does!

I wanted to make a pesto sauce that would be light and creamy through the addition of silken tofu.  The only recipe I found was this one from Cooking Light, so I worked from it but made it vegan using nutritional yeast and walnuts in place of the parmesan cheese.  I'd like to tell you that I did this because nutritional yeast is healthier than parmesan (which it is), but really it's because when I went to the grocery store looking for parmesan, all they had were ginormous hunks that cost 20 dollars, and I wasn't willing to spend that much money on a meal that I wasn't even sure would work out!

Fortunately, this meal not only worked out, but it was delicious!  The silken tofu gave the pesto such a smooth and fluffy texture that made for a creamy sauce that still tasted light and had all the flavour of pesto, which I love!  I ate all of mine with pasta, but I think it would also work great as a sandwich spread or dip.

I decided to be extra healthy and eat my pesto with a gluten-free multigrain penne I'd bought from Whole Foods, made from rice, quinoa, and amaranth.  Unfortunately, when the pasta was done cooking it looked like this (and no, my pot is not normally that dirty, all the residue on the sides was from the pasta):

failed pasta

I still ended up eating it (no sense wasting food!), but didn't think those shreds of pasta would make for a very nice picture, so I immediately cooked up some whole wheat spaghetti so that I could show a photo of the pesto sauce in action.  That's how much I love you guys!

Of course, I realized afterward that I forgot to add cherry tomatoes for the photo, so just imagine they're in there making it prettier.  I gave some pasta to Ryan and asked if he could guess what was in it, which he couldn't, and even after I told him there was tofu in it, he still happily kept eating!  So don't think that if you hate tofu you won't like this, I promise you can't tell it's in there!

Creamy Vegan Tofu Basil Pesto Sauce

Tofu Basil Pesto Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

Makes enough sauce for 3-4 pasta servings


1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup silken tofu
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and process to combine.

If serving pesto with pasta, cook 8oz pasta and heat up the pesto in a saucepan before tossing with the cooked pesto.  I also added some sauteed cherry tomatoes to the pasta, which worked really well.  You could also use the pesto as a sandwich spread, pizza sauce, or dip! 


  1. Did you eat the batch of spaghetti aswell?? It does look really good!

  2. I gave the spaghetti to my boyfriend and ate the shredded penne myself - both were good!

  3. This looks so creamy - I love that it's still vegan and light tasting! I tried a tofu-based pasta sauce once that had no flavour, but this one was really good with the pesto ingredients! I can imagine it would work really well with the cherry tomatoes, or also as a veggie dip.

  4. I love this idea! I'll have to try tofu this way - my basil is thriving, so this would be perfect!

  5. yummmmmmmmm! What a GREAT way to get some more protein. I've totally gotta try this.

  6. Kiersten @ Oh My VeggiesSeptember 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    What in the world happened to that pasta?! ;) It's funny, I always do the same thing where I forget to add something to a dish and only realize this after spending 20 minutes photographing it. But your spaghetti looks beautiful even without the tomatoes!

  7. I need to get on the yeast train and start using it. Everyone that does seems to love it and I feel a little like a chef fraud for knowing nothing about it!

  8. I love the idea of adding more protein to a pesto sauce! I love anything with tofu lately. I am obsessed.

  9. I know, I wish I'd saved some to try as a dip - I'll have to make some more!

  10. haha I have no idea what happened to the pasta, it's the first gluten-free pasta I've tried so I assumed it was because of that, but I wonder why they sell it if it just turns to shreds when you cook it!

  11. It took me a really long time to try nutritional yeast - my sisters ate it on popcorn for so long and I always thought it sounded disgusting, but once I tried it I've been using it in everything (especially on popcorn!)

  12. yes I loved that I didn't have to add meat or another protein to the pasta because it was already in there!

  13. Joanne (Eats well with others)September 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    What an awesome way to healthify pesto sauce! I bet it tastes like a pesto cream sauce...which is even better!

  14. I'm excited to try this. I'm not a huge fan of tofu, but am looking to find ways to incorporate it into my I know a bit would be healthy for me. Lots of protein! I love your idea for a pesto. All the flavours I love. Totally would make tofu easy to consume! hehe!


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