Creamy vegan avocado pesto pasta is a delicious oil-free alternative to traditional pesto. The no-cook sauce comes together quickly with only 6 ingredients and a food processor. You'll have dinner on the table in the amount if time it takes to boil water and cook a box of noodles.
The first time I tried it with pasta was when I made the avocado pesto recipe from the book Chloe's Kitchen back in 2012. And while I enjoy Chef Chloe's recipe, I can never eat very much of it because it's quite rich.
Over the years I've tried many vegan pasta recipes featuring avocado and basil, and I finally came up with this avocado pesto pasta that I absolutely love and make quite frequently. And it's a nice change of pace from my usual vegan basil pesto sauce.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's oil-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and allergy-friendly.
- You can make it in 15 minutes.
- It's a California twist on a traditional Mediterranean dish.
- Pasta: Any shape can be used. Here I used gluten-free penne. (Or skip the pasta and serve the avocado pesto with zucchini noodles.)
- Fresh garlic
- Ripe avocado
- Fresh basil leaves
- Lemon juice
- Hemp seeds: For a nutty flavor. If you don't need to make this dish nut-free, you can substitute an equal amount of pine nuts or walnuts.
- Nutritional yeast: This seasoning provides a savory, cheesy flavor. I love it in pesto tofu scramble, vegan macaroni and cheese, and on popcorn.
How to choose an avocado
When shopping for avocados, I've found that it's best to choose ones that have a little piece of the stem still attached. If the stem is missing, don't buy it.
Most likely you will be purchasing avocados that are unripe, which is a good thing. Simply let them ripen on your kitchen counter for a few days.
When the avocado starts to feel a little soft when gently squeezed, try to pull out the stem. If the stem comes out with no resistance, check the color of the small circle under the stem:
Brown: The avocado is either overripe or is blemished.
Light yellow: It's not quite ripe yet.
Bright green: Your avocado is ripe and ready to go.
- Add veggies: Just before the pasta is done cooking, add your favorite vegetables to the pot such as broccoli or cauliflower florets or sliced asparagus. Drain the pasta and vegetables together and toss with the avocado sauce.
- Make it spicy: Sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes over the pasta when serving for a little kick.
- Skip the basil: Try making the sauce with fresh spinach, arugula, or kale in place of basil. Or try a combination of fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and oregano.
- Boost the protein: Use high-protein pasta made from lentils or chickpeas. Or top your avocado pesto pasta with some smoky fried chickpeas or vegan walnut meat.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package instructions.
- Meanwhile prepare the sauce in a food processor by blending the ingredients together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Do not overprocess. You should still be able to see flecks of basil in the sauce.
- Toss the cooked and drained pasta with the pesto.
- Top with halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, if desired, and serve.
While best enjoyed immediately, this pasta can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Leftovers are best enjoyed at room temperature.
Avocados should be stored at room temperature until ripe. Once ripe they should be refrigerated in the produce drawer until ready to use.
Avocados are available in stores year round. Peak season for avocados from Mexico is November to April. Peak season for avocados from the United States is May to August.
Wash the basil leaves in a bowl of fresh water. Submerge the leaves with your hands and swoosh them around before allowing to soak. Rinse the leaves, lay them out, and blot them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
More vegan avocado recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Vegan Avocado Pesto Pasta
- 1 box pasta of your choice (12-16 ounces), (I used gluten-free penne)
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 avocado, seed and skin removed
- 1 cup fresh basil, thick stems removed
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- salt , to taste
- cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered, for topping (optional)
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile prepare the pesto sauce by processing the garlic, avocado, basil, lemon juice, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, and salt. Pulse and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl as needed. Do not overprocess; keep the sauce a little chunky so that you can see specks of basil. Taste and add salt, as needed.
- Add the pesto to the pasta and toss well to combine. Top with cherry tomatoes before serving, if desired.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.