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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Easy Pesto Without Pine Nuts

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Healthy pesto without pine nuts is the perfect pasta sauce for any Italian dish or easy weeknight meal. This walnut and sage pesto is packed full of earthy flavors and is lower in fat and calories than its store bought counterparts!

pesto without pine nuts in a glass jar

Pesto pasta is one of those classic combinations that everyone loves. It’s just so satisfying — something about that combination of fresh herbs, olive oil, and nuts is so comforting!

I don’t make traditional basil pesto very often because while it’s a super delicious sauce, it’s typically packed with fat and calories (since you can have too much of even good, healthy fats!) But this version retains all of the flavor of the traditional recipe, and also happens to be lower in calories, fat, and is vegan friendly too!

Latest Recipe Video!

This homemade pesto recipe is one of my favorite things to make on a busy weeknight. There are so many variations I can prepare using ingredients I have in my fridge and pantry. If we are having someone over with nut allergies, I can make a simple swap to make this pesto with no nuts at all!

Here is my version of a healthy pesto recipe without pine nuts! Toss it with some whole wheat pasta and you’ll have an easy dinner ready in under 30 minutes!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Versatile Sauce
  • Simple Recipe
  • Short Recipe Time
  • Easy Vegan Pesto
  • Simple Sauce Recipe
  • Vibrant Green Color
  • Gluten-Free Option
  • Nut-Free Option

🥘 Ingredients

Making this dairy-free pesto sauce without pine nuts is actually super easy! You need just a handful of simple ingredients that are easy to find at your local grocery store. Scroll to the bottom of the post to the recipe card for complete measurements and nutritional information.

ingredients for homemade pesto without pine nuts

Parsley And Sage: This walnut pesto sauce is made with a combination of parsley and sage instead of basil, giving it an earthy and aromatic flavor. If you like more traditional pesto recipes, feel free to use fresh basil plants. Or make kale pesto by substituting the parsley and sage for kale.

Seasoning: Salt, black pepper, and fresh garlic add a depth of flavor and give this easy pesto recipe a more complex flavor profile.

Walnuts: While traditional pesto alla genovese is made with pine nuts, I’ve chosen to use walnuts in this recipe. Walnuts are soft, have a buttery texture, and blend well when combined with parsley and sage to create a rich sauce. Make this a nut-free pesto recipe by using seeds instead of nuts.

Lemon Juice And Vegetable Stock: The traditional version usually has copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil which gives it that classic creamy consistency. But too much olive oil can add too much fat & extra calories, making it less healthy as a result. Instead of using olive oil, lemon juice and vegetable stock add the needed liquid to blend all the ingredients together, yet with a fraction of the fat and calories.

📖 Variations

  • Cheesy Pesto: This homemade pesto recipe is vegan, because we don’t add any cheese. But you could use nutritional yeast for the best flavor, or add freshly grated parmigiano reggiano if you don’t need to make this recipe vegan. Another great cheese option is pecorino romano, asiago, manchego, or another type of hard cheese.
  • Pesto Without Nuts: If someone in your family has a nut allergy you can make this into a completely nut free pesto by substituting the walnuts for sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
  • Other Nuts: If you want to switch out the walnuts, you can use almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts.
  • Spinach Pesto: Add 1 cup baby spinach along with the fresh herbs! You can also use peppery arugula, kale, or other leafy greens for a different twist.
  • Homemade Basil Pesto: Add fresh basil leaves instead of the sage! Other herbs that would work well include, parsley, rosemary, mint, oregano, and thyme.
  • Add Olive Oil: For a creamier consistency, use up to 4 tablespoons of a good olive oil.

🔪 How To Make Pesto Without Pine Nuts

Combine a little salt, parsley, sage, minced garlic cloves, walnuts, and lemon juice in a food processor; process until finely chopped, scraping sides.

herbs and walnuts blended together in a food processor

Add Broth: With the processor on, slowly pour the broth through the food chute, processing until well blended.

easy pesto recipe in a food processor

Store And Enjoy: Transfer the sauce to a mason jar or airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use.

healthy pesto without pine nuts in a glass jar

❓Recipe FAQs

What Is pesto sauce?

Pesto is a herb-based pasta sauce originating from northern Italy. Traditionally it is made with basil and pine nuts, and ground with a mortar and pestle. I used the same principles but substituted these ingredients with sage and walnuts and used a food processor to cut down on prep time.

What can you use instead of pine nuts in pesto?

Pine nuts are rather expensive, and sometimes difficult to find. In this recipe, I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. The walnuts provide a nice rich texture similar to pine nuts. You could also use cashews, pecans, or almonds.

Can I use peanuts instead of pine nuts for pesto?

I do not recommend using peanuts for pesto sauce without pine nuts. Peanuts have a very distinct flavor, and with pesto you want the fresh basil and herb flavor to come through. Peanuts overpower the flavor of the herbs. That’s why I recommend a milder nut such as walnuts.

How Do You Store Pesto Sauce?

Refrigerator: Transfer this vegan pesto without pine nuts to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It will keep up to a week, but then I recommend adding a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over the top of the sauce to help retain its flavor and color.
Freeze: Pour leftover pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until solid, then transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer-safe bag to use for later. It will keep for up to 3 months frozen!

👨‍👩‍👧 How To Serve

This bright green sauce tastes great on a variety of dishes. Here are some of our favorite ways to serve it:

  • Toss With Hot Pasta: Cook your favorite type of pasta, and toss with this vegan pesto. I like using whole wheat penne, which is healthier than typical white pasta recipes. But you could also add more protein by using a chickpea pasta or lentil pasta, which is also gluten-free.
  • On Roasted Vegetables: Roast your favorite squashes and root veggies and toss with this sauce.
  • As A Spread For Sandwiches: Spread on crusty bread, top with cheese and fresh veggies and enjoy!

💭 Expert Tips

  • When choosing your fresh herbs, look for plants that have bright green leaves that aren’t bruised or drooping. They will be the freshest and have the best flavor.
  • Try toasting your nuts before adding them to the sauce!
  • Don’t forget to season generously with salt and pepper.
  • The lemon juice also helps to keep the sauce green, so don’t leave it out!
  • Can be served warm with your favorite pasta, or cold as a spread for sandwiches or dip for veggies!
easy pesto without pine nuts in a mason jar

🍝 More Tasty, Healthy Pasta Dishes!

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📋 Recipe Card

pesto without pine nuts in a glass jar
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Pesto Without Pine Nuts

This healthy pesto without pine nuts is the perfect pasta sauce for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This walnut and sage pesto is packed full of earthy flavors and is lower in fat and calories than its store bought counterparts!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 52kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

To Make The Pesto

  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves can also use fresh basil
  • tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

To Toss With Pasta

  • 4 cups cooked whole wheat penne (about 3 cups uncooked)
  • 4 zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 1 10oz bag baby spinach
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 8 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (1 tbsp per serving)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced

Equipment

Instructions

To Make The Pesto

  • Combine ¼ teaspoon salt, parsley, and next 5 ingredients (through 1 clove garlic) in a food processor; process until finely chopped, scraping sides.
  • With processor on, slowly pour broth through food chute, processing until well blended.

If Tossing With Pasta

  • Cook penne according to package directions, cool and set aside.
  • Spray a pan with cooking spray, heat over medium heat. Add zucchini and 2 cloves minced garlic and stir fry lightly (for about 5 min max). Add spinach, garlic salt and oregano and cook through until spinach is wilted. Set aside.
  • Combine penne and pesto in a pot on low heat until combined and heated through. Add pepper and mix well. Add in vegetables and serve warm, top with 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese per serving.

Video

https://youtu.be/iEZQKVvWTWE

Notes

Tips For Making Pesto Sauce
  • When choosing your fresh herbs, look for plants that have bright green leaves that aren’t bruised or drooping. They will be the freshest and have the best flavor.
  • Try toasting your nuts before adding them to the sauce!
  • Don’t forget to season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Note: Nutrition information is for the pesto only (does not include pasta)
Tips For Making Pesto Pasta
  • Cook the pasta al-dente (with bite).
  • Use whole wheat pasta for added fiber.
  • Use chickpea pasta for added protein and to make it a gluten free dish.
  • Add in any veggies you like! I used zucchini and baby spinach, but asparagus, other squashes, or even broccoli would work well in this dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25of the pesto | Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 228mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Posted In…

Italian Recipes ·

These recipes are sure to be a hit! Make a healthier pizza or a guilt-free pasta and enjoy the fresh flavors of Italy.

Many people think carbs and cheese when they think Italian, but there is so much more to appreciate: aromatic herbs, fresh ingredients, and bright flavors shine. Many of my Italian-inspired recipes are suitable for special diets, such as vegan ratatouille or gluten-free lasagna.

26 responses to “Easy Pesto Without Pine Nuts”

  1. This sounds delicious! I have never thought to use sage in my pesto before but it’s a great idea. Can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  2. I love using walnuts in pesto (less expensive, and I think walnuts add heaps more flavour). It was the first time I tried using parsley and sage in a pesto! And I absolutely loved it. Very distinctive flavour! 🙂5 stars

  3. We love pesto with walnuts! It gives is such a nutty flavor and goes so well with the whole wheat pasta! Love it!5 stars

  4. I love walnuts — and it’s so nice when something I love eating is a healthy, too. This looks really good.

  5. This is absolutely scrumptious. I do love walnuts in pesto and different herbs. The additions of the scrumptious vegetables make this heavenly.

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