Pesto Primavera Pasta and Other Fresh Basil Recipes

by on June 17, 2011
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Every summer, our small back patio turns into a miniature basil farm with large pots of the fragrant herb filling every available inch. As soon as the plants shoot up a few inches, I start snipping off their leaves and adding them to just about everything I make. By this time, mid-June, the plants are so bushy that I can make pesto every other day and still have basil to spare. If you also find yourself with the happy problem of having too much basil, take a look at a few of my old favorite basil recipes–and one new one.

Potato-Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Basil

This basil-infused potato salad contains no added fat at all and gets its creaminess from the potatoes themselves.

Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup

Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup makes good use of another summer vegetable that many people have a surplus of, zucchini.

Roasted Eggplant Pesto

My favorite way to use basil is in pesto, and this unusual recipe uses roasted eggplant instead of olive oil. It is amazing!

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto and pasta were meant for each other, but who would have guessed that asparagus makes a delicious mΓ©nage Γ  trois? This Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad is one of my most popular recipes.

If that’s not enough basil for you, check out Farmers’ Market Quinoa, which is perfect for using up all your summer produce, Thai-Style Basil Tofu and Asparagus, which is even better with Thai basil, and Basil and Bulgar Salad, a tabouli-like grain salad infused with fresh basil. Or give my latest pesto recipe a try:

Pesto Primavera Pasta

Pesto Primavera Pasta and Other Fresh Basil Recipes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This versatile pasta dish can be served warm or cold and you can vary the vegetables to suit what's in your refrigerator.
Serves: 8
  • 16 ounces whole wheat rotini or other spiral pasta (may be gluten-free)
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 cups fresh basil, packed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 12-ounce package lite silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • additional salt & pepper, to taste
  • slivered almonds, for garnish (optional)
  1. Bring a very large pot of water to boil, add salt if desired and the pasta. Return to a boil and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for 4 more minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another minute or until pasta is al dente. Remove from heat and drain in a colander over the sink. Spray with cold water and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Grind the almonds, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the basil, lemon juice, and silken tofu and process until smooth. Add salt to taste and process to combine.
  3. Gently stir the sauce into the pasta and vegetables. Add the chickpeas, diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or chilled, garnished with additional almonds.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/8 of recipe Calories: 316 Fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 61g Sugar: 5g Sodium: 387mg Fiber: 10g Protein: 15g

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Celebrate summer with these low-fat vegan basil recipes, including oil-free vegan pesto, a basil-infused potato salad, and creamy soup.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) June 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

Thank you! I have a surplus of basil growing right now in my backyard. All different types too. Can’t wait to give these recipes a try.


2 mary (what's cookin with mary) June 17, 2011 at 10:06 am

Just made a vegetarian pesto pasta salad (my brother’s recipe) yesterday. I didn’t make my own pesto, but I am loving all things basil right now. I need to get some growing on my patio like you Susan. Right now I’ve just got my thyme…


3 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty June 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

Mmmmmmmmmmmm I want pesto now!! πŸ™‚ That may be on my to -do list! πŸ™‚


4 eva @5fruitsNveggies June 17, 2011 at 10:27 am

looking forward to trying your roasted eggplant pesto….i just printed off the recipe…my kids eat ALL veggies except eggplant, so i look for ways to serve it…baba-gha-hummus is about the only dish so far, so this eggplant might work well on crostini for them


5 Maya (The Keen Kitchen) June 17, 2011 at 11:03 am

Yum, yum, yum! All your pesto recipes look fabulous. Basil season is so exciting! When I don’t feel like cooking, I often have brown rice pasta with pesto and sauteed veggies, topped with nutritional yeast. Impossible to get sick of!


6 Allie June 17, 2011 at 11:12 am

I DO have way too much basil sitting in pots, and have been trying to come up with ways to use it–perfect timing for this post! I can’t wait to try out these recipes, and will probably give the pesto primavera recipe a go this weekend.


7 Tiffany June 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The pesto primavera pasta looks delicious! I like the other basil suggestions you posted, too. The roasted eggplant pesto sounds so creative and definitely intrigues me.


8 Katie Cain June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Super inspiring, as always, Susan. I tend to use my basil for the same old pesto recipe and garnishing of pasta dishes. I absolutely love it but it would be good to change it up!


9 laloofah June 18, 2011 at 6:09 am

If only someone would invent a scratch-n-sniff blog feature! I’d have scratched a hole in my computer monitor to get at the aroma of your gorgeous basil! How I wish I had a basil surplus problem, but I’ve never had luck growing basil in pots or in the garden. (I never have enough thyme, either, but that’s another story.) πŸ˜‰

Thanks for yet another recipe (the pesto with roasted eggplant) to add to my bulging recipe box. The others, needless to say, were already there! Now if only you and your readers could email me some of your basil abundance (another feature the IT Crowd needs to devise!)


10 Gena June 18, 2011 at 7:29 am

A classic FFVK recipe! Love basil; truly the mother of summer herbs.


11 Ricki June 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm

The pesto looks amazing! And coincidentally, I just made a pasta salad very much like this one–with the basil from the pots in MY garden. I have to agree–it’s amazing how well pasta and pesto go together! The salad is beautiful, too, which makes it all that much more appealing. πŸ™‚


12 Lex June 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I love basil! I just had an amazing Vegan Pho with Thai Basil that was so tasty and fragrant!


13 Ross June 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm

These are lovely! Thank you for sharing these recipes. Those look yummy. Truly, basil is not just a mere flavoring in our dishes but also packed with nutrients.


14 Arlene @ Easy Quick Food Recipes June 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

Wow! Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup looks divine! I have to try it as soon as possible. Thanks for the idea.


15 Caitlin June 20, 2011 at 9:54 am

basil is my absolute favorite herb. it goes perfectly with so many different foods! i definitely want to try ALL of the recipes in this post. yummm!


16 FoodFitnessFreshAir June 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I lovee vegan pesto. I always whip it up for friends in the summer, and they’d never guess there’s no parm. in it. It also freezes great. I always use nutritional yeast, but I’ve never tried adding silken tofu to make it creamier. Sounds like a good idea I should try!


17 AikoVenus June 20, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Your food always looks so beautiful and so very tasty. The plus side is that it’s so low in fat!


18 Anna (Fair Flavors) June 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I love these recipes. Especially the zucchini recipe. We started a square foot garden and I have a lot of them right now. I am now looking for creative ways to use them. Can’t always eat the same boring “zucchini chopped in pasta” right? πŸ™‚


19 Victoria June 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm

So good to see some low fat vegan recipes! I love your photography!


20 Red June 22, 2011 at 7:33 am

Hello Susan
Thanks for this post as I currently have three boxes of basil to use up so this has helped a lot. lol. I particularly look forward to trying the Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad.


21 lindsey June 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm

these recipes all look delicious! im going to try so many of these!!!! keep posting incredible recipes, ive been looking for a good vegan pesto and woo !! here it is!


22 katherine June 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

just made the zucchini basil soup again tonight…it is one of my favorites for summer.


23 Frugal Vegan Mom July 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I tried the Primavera recipe and it didn’t turn out quite right. There wasn’t quite enough sauce for the amount of pasta and the sauce didn’t have enough flavor either. I ended up using the other half of the tofu and another 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast and a bunch more garlic to make more sauce and then it was ok.


24 Marsha Decker August 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

I had to tell you that everything you show looks so delicious. I am a vegan now for about 5-6 mos and am enjoying it , as well as finding this new lifestyle very beneficial healthwise. I have tried and created many new recipes and have tried a number of yours which also have been delicious. I enjoy cooking and love to try new recipes.. So keep em coming!!!


25 Lori October 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Just made the Pesto Primavera tonight. Let me tell you it was AWESOME!!! This was a very easy and delicious recipe. It’s a new favorite for my family. It’s so refreshing to have a recipe that is simple to do but yet so palatable. I love using fresh ingredients in my recipes. Thank you for this one!


26 Tracy @ Hall of Fame Moms November 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Came across your site as I was searching for recipes to use Pesto in. I don’t do well growing things- even my store-bought organic herb plants went down hill after I brought them home and transplanted them into a bigger container.

But what I do with fresh herbs when I buy them or cut them off a plant is to freeze them and then I use as needed. If I had a surplus of basil, thats what I would do. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to grow things πŸ˜‰


27 Gusichka December 23, 2011 at 4:34 am

I have been very inspired by your site and made a few dishes but own variation as i didnt have the required ingeredientson hand. Thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays πŸ™‚


28 brinkley February 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm

This was delicious! Even the 9 year old and 13 month old devoured it. Thank you!


29 Lizzy July 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thank you for these basil recipes. They look delicious. Can you please tell me, do you have a recipe book out at all.
Many thanks


30 Susan Voisin July 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Thanks, Lizzy! Unfortunately, no, I haven’t written my own cookbook. Yet. I keep meaning to get around to that! In the meantime, I’ve tried to index and categorize my recipes here as good as possible so that people can find what they’re looking for. If you need something and can’t find it, please let me know.


31 Sarina Doughty July 14, 2012 at 8:24 am

Very inspired by all the wonderful basil recipes!
I have a 5 gallon bucket packed full of fresh basil to try every one!
Traditional pesto freezes very well, but your recipe is much healthier, have you had success freezing it? I have never froze silken tofu.
Since becomming vegan your website has become my “go to” site!!
Thank you!!


32 Susan Voisin July 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

Thanks, Sarina! I haven’t frozen pesto, but I have successfully frozen my tofu-cashew mayo, so I think pesto should freeze well, too.


33 shahar August 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Susan, the pesto in this Pesto Primavera Pasta is absolutely fantastic! We loved the recipe so much I planned to make the pesto sauce with my 50+ basil plants and freeze for use throughout the upcoming year. I made a test batch and tried freezing it in a small container (I usually use ice cube trays for pesto) and it thawed perfectly – we made luscious veggie pizzas with it last night. Today I nearly panicked when I could not access my Recipe Box (don’t know why it won’t give me the drop down list today) so I went through all of your pasta recipes and am very, very excited to have found it once again! Thank you ever so much for sharing your talents with us all. You’re the best!


34 shahar August 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I want to add that I substituted 1 Tbl + 1 tsp of almond meal for the sliced almonds and put that in with the garlic and nutritional yeast. Again, thank you for the DELICIOUS recipe!


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