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Dairy Free Pesto Recipe with Crispy Chickpeas


A dairy free pesto recipe with nutritional yeast that tastes surprisingly cheesey, with crunchy, nutty flavoured chickpeas. This recipe is gluten free, vegan, plant based and egg free.

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bowl of dairy free pesto with crispy chickpeas

Dairy Free Pesto Recipe

Making your own dairy free pesto is so easy and a much healthier alternative then buying a store bought pesto. Most store bought pesto’s use an inferior quality oil like sunflower oil or canola. When you make pesto from scratch you can use extra virgin olive oil, which contains polyunsaturated fats and is minimally processed. To make classic pesto add basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts and salt to a blender. Blend on high until smooth and lump free. To get a cheese flavour in dairy free pesto use nutritional yeast flakes, which are a good source of vitamin B12.

How to Use Pesto

Pesto is highly nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways including:

  • pesto pasta
  • salad dressing
  • to top meat or chicken
  • spread onto pizza
  • use pesto as a dip
  • spread on toast
  • stir through risotto
  • for potato salad

ingredients for dairy free pesto in blender

Dairy Free Pesto Variations / Substitutions

There are so many different ways to make pesto. Here are some ways to change pesto up:

  • add lemon juice for a zestier pesto
  • add nutritional yeast (as we have in this recipe) for a cheesier tasting pesto
  • use any leafy greens and/or herbs on hand – kale, spinach, parsley, rocket/arugula and coriander all work well
  • swap pine nuts for cashews, walnuts, almonds or toasted sunflower seeds for a nut free pesto

tips for making pesto

Tips for Making Pesto Pasta with Crispy Chickpeas

Pesto pasta is quick to make, making it the perfect mid-week meal. To streamline the process, here are a few tips.

  1. Always put the water on the stove to boil first. A large pot of water can take quite a bit of time to come to a boil so it’s best to get this out of the way before beginning other tasks.
  2. Next place the rinsed and strained chickpeas into the oven and allow them to roast while you make the pesto sauce and the water is coming to a boil.
  3. Once the pesto is made and the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pan and cook to al dente.
  4. When the pasta is close to al dente – remove 1/2 cup of water from the pan. The starches in the pasta water help to create a creamier pesto sauce when added into the strained pasta + pesto. Adding pasta water in at this step also thins the pesto out, meaning it will evenly coat the pasta.
  5. Add the chickpeas just before serving so that they remain crispy.

After more dairy free dinner ideas? Try these:

Homemade Baked Beans

Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Soup

Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

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If you make this recipe, I would love to know! Comment below, rate the recipe, share your recipe on Instagram and tag @ournourishingtable #ournourishingtable

vegan pesto recipe

Dairy Free Pesto with Crispy Chickpeas

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Course: Mains
Cuisine: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Plant Based, Vegan
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: basil, dairy free pesto, pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Passive Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Blender
  • Seive/Strainer
  • Saucepan
  • Baking Tray


Crispy Chickpeas

  • 1 400g can chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt to season
  • pepper to season


  • 2 cups basil leaves firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yest
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

To Serve

  • 350 grams spaghetti gluten free


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Fill a large saucepan with water as per spaghetti pack instructions. Place on stove top and turn to high to bring to boiling.
  • Strain and rinse the chickpeas and transfer onto baking tray. Season with salt & pepper and toss to coat evenly. Place chickpeas in oven to roast for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the pesto. Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth.
  • Once water is boiling season with salt and add in spaghetti. Stir occasionally so spaghetti doesn't stick to each other. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  • Once spaghetti is al dente (after around 10 minutes), strain the spaghetti and then return to the pan. Add the pesto and pasta water and use a pair of silicone coated tongs or two forks to gently toss the spaghetti until it is evenly coated in pesto sauce.
  • Remove the chickpeas from the oven. Serve pesto spaghetti straight away topped with the chickpeas.


Serving Suggestions:
  • green beans
  • leafy green salad
  • chicken breast
  • If wanting to reduce the amount of oil, reduce to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup water or juice of 1 lemon.
  • Swap basil for any other leafy green vegetable like spinach, arugula/rocket, kale etc.
  • Swap pine nuts for almonds, cashews, toasted sunflower seeds etc. 
Did you make this recipe? Share your recreation on Instagram and tag @ournourishingtable #ournourishingtable


Calories: 799kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 638mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 660IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Post your recreation to Instagram and mention @ournourishingtable or tag #ournourishingtable! Don't forget to let us know how you went by rating this recipe and commenting below.

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