Celebrate summer with these low-fat vegan basil recipes, including oil-free vegan pesto, a basil-infused potato salad, and creamy soup.
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.
This basil-infused potato salad contains no added fat at all and gets its creaminess from the potatoes themselves.
Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup makes good use of another summer vegetable that many people have a surplus of, zucchini.
My favorite way to use basil is in pesto, and this unusual recipe uses roasted eggplant instead of olive oil. It is amazing!
Pesto and pasta were meant for each other, but who would have guessed that asparagus makes a delicious ménage à 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 and Other Fresh Basil Recipes
- 16 ounces whole wheat rotini or other spiral pasta (may use gluten-free pasta)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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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.
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…
Jessica @ Dairy Free BettyJune 17, 2011 at 10:20 am
Mmmmmmmmmmmm I want pesto now!! 🙂 That may be on my to -do list! 🙂
eva @5fruitsNveggiesJune 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
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!
AllieJune 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.
TiffanyJune 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.
Katie CainJune 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!
laloofahJune 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.) 😉
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!)
GenaJune 18, 2011 at 7:29 am
A classic FFVK recipe! Love basil; truly the mother of summer herbs.
RickiJune 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. 🙂
LexJune 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!
RossJune 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.
Arlene @ Easy Quick Food RecipesJune 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.
CaitlinJune 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!
FoodFitnessFreshAirJune 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!
AikoVenusJune 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!
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? 🙂
VictoriaJune 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm
So good to see some low fat vegan recipes! I love your photography!
RedJune 22, 2011 at 7:33 am
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.
lindseyJune 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!
katherineJune 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm
just made the zucchini basil soup again tonight…it is one of my favorites for summer.
Frugal Vegan MomJuly 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.
Marsha DeckerAugust 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!!!
LoriOctober 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!
Tracy @ Hall of Fame MomsNovember 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 😉
GusichkaDecember 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 🙂
brinkleyFebruary 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm
This was delicious! Even the 9 year old and 13 month old devoured it. Thank you!
LizzyJuly 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.
Susan VoisinJuly 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.
Sarina DoughtyJuly 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!!
Susan VoisinJuly 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.
shaharAugust 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!
shaharAugust 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!
LizJuly 12, 2021 at 2:52 pm
Thank you, Susan, for this pesto recipe! I am new to growing basil which I have an abundance of these days. I wasn’t using it fast enough, so have been looking for an oil free vegan pesto recipe. I saw various recipes that each used different nuts. Since I had walnuts on hand, I substituted those for the almonds. Otherwise, I followed your pesto portion of this recipe. Wow, it is delicious! I’m so glad to have such an easy, healthy, and delicious way to use my beautiful basil crop!
I was wondering how you would feel about putting this pesto recipe under the sauce/spreads category of your site as well. There are so many ways to use it. Before making it, I was not sure how it would taste with silken tofu and no oil. But I have never made a recipe of yours that I didn’t like, so I am very glad that I trusted your expertise and went for it. It really surpassed my expectations in flavor! Great taste and consistency! (:
Thanks again, Susan! I really appreciate all of the work that you put into your recipes and your site. I don’t know how I would be enjoying so many vegan meals without your support!
Susan VoisinJuly 12, 2021 at 5:06 pm
Hi Liz, I’m so happy you liked the pesto! I’m going to take your suggestion and add it to the sauces category. Thanks so much for your feedback!