When I was little, my mom used to make pesto pasta for me all the time. In fact we had it so frequently that I grew to dislike it quite a bit. I know you’re probably wondering how that’s even possible, but it’s true. As I grew older I could never get back into it either until about a few weeks ago when I finally tried pesto again.
Here’s how the story goes:
My friend Sarah and I stopped to order sandwiches for a quick lunch where my entire reality changed and welcomed me to the world of pesto. Sarah asked for a side of it and naturally, I was curious as to how it would taste after 10+ years so I put it on my sandwich as well and…HOLY MOTHER OF PESTO! This is what I’ve been missing out on my entire adult life?! I should have given pesto more of a chance.
And now it’s my latest addiction! In fact I put it on pasta last week, slathered it on my morning toast with some extra avocado slices and ate it with hummus and carrots nearly every day. I might put it on everything until the end of time. Don’t try to stop me. Seriously don’t.
Apparently pesto calories add up quite quickly and although it’s packed with mostly healthy fats, I thought I’d do myself a favor and create a bit of a lightened up pesto without any added oil. Did you know that most pesto recipes call for at least 1/4 cup of olive oil? Instead I chose to use avocado for my healthy fat and to create the creamiest base. Just a few simple ingredients and you are on your way to pesto bliss people.
New to pesto? Here are some delicious ways to enjoy it:
- Toss 1/4 cup in with some whole grain or gluten free pasta for an easy weeknight dinner. Add chicken for extra protein.
- Stir into cooked quinoa and add a few cherry tomatoes for an easy weekday vegetarian lunch.
- Spread it on toast and top with a few other extras like sliced tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and chia seeds
- Use it as a sandwich spread for your grilled cheese; it’ll add a ton of flavor!
- Toss in 1/2 cup spinach for extra nutrition!
Amazing recipes to use this avocado basil pesto:
Street Corn Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto & Goat Cheese
Pesto Tuna Caprese Cucumber Bites + video!
Roasted Veggie, Chickpea & Pesto Quinoa Salad
Healthy Pumpkin Seed & Avocado Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Avocado Basil Pesto Zucchini Noodles
Hope you love it as much as I do. To keep up to date with posts and behind the scenes info, follow AK:
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Lightened-Up Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto (no oil added)
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 large ripe avocado
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- sea salt, to taste
Add basil, avocado, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds or until pesto is chopped. Add in water and process again until completely smooth. You may need to add more water to get it to your desired consistency; I like mine a little on the thicker side. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.
Store in an airtight container or sealed mason jar and refrigerate. Pesto is best if used within a few days, otherwise you can freeze it for several months. Makes 1 cup, or 2-4 servings depending on what it's used for.
Toss in 1/2 cup spinach for extra nutrition
You can omit the pine nuts, but I think they add a nice flavor.
Thanks for this super delicious sounding recipe! Btw, pinenuts are not really nuts, they’re seeds, so they should be pretty safe für nut allergy sufferers 🙂 Anyway, this recipe will definitely be tried out this week!
Thanks for letting us know! 🙂
All nuts are seeds of some sort.
I make a similar pesto….but let’s get real, I’m sure Mama AK’s is wayyy better.
I love this lightened version! Delicious!
Adding avocado to pesto is such a great idea. I am totally trying this. Perfect for wraps and sandwiches.
Just stumbled onto your site via Pinterest:) I’ve been adding oil to my pesto for years…now I know I don’t have too!! Can’t wait to try
I think you’ll love it!
Is it ok if I omit cheese from this pesto?
Hi, I was wondering if I needed to toast the pine nuts in a pan or oven?
This is absolutely delicious! I toasted the pine nuts which really enhanced the flavour of the dish. I had it for breakfast with scrambled eggs, lunch with brown rice, watercress, zucchini, spring onions, chicken and toasted pepita seeds and a with grilled cheese. This is a new staple for me!
Does this brown quickly? By the way I made your turkey chili today and it was my favorite chili ever. Thank you for all your awesome recipes!
I’m wondering about whether it browns as well!
There’s lemon juice in it so I’d assume that it will not brown.
Thanks so much for sharing – I’m going to try this soon
This is delicious – I didn’t have the pine nuts so used a teaspoon of Almond Butter – thanks for sharing
Thanks for this recipe. It sounds interesting. I will totally give this a try. I love avocado and use it in many recipes, and love it in sauces and spreads too. By the way, I just thought I’d mention, according to Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a well known cardiologist and advocate for healthy food and lifestyle in the UK, everyone should consume 4 Tbsp (that’s 1/4 cup) of olive oil every day for a healthy heart and arteries.
Wow! This recipe is so fabulous! We have already made it a few times and just can’t get enough! It definitely made it to our “keepers” file 🙂
I make avocado pesto all the time. I love avocados and I love spinach so this is a winning combination. Also I can’t have dairy so the avocado provides a nice creamy alternative which is what I missed the most about cheese. How do you store it? Avocado oxides rapidly. I was able to make my extra avocado sauce last a few days because of the high lemon and oil content. I don’t put garlic in mine and I know the acid from the garlic helps keep it from going bad.
Can I make lots of this and freeze it?
Ate some recently – they put a touch of fresh chili into it – it’s a brand new world!
I’ve never thought to put chili in here! Must give it a try…
Looks great! For how long does this last?
It should be good for a few days in the fridge, otherwise you can freeze it for a few months!
Hi Monique! Just stumbled upon this recipe through Pinterest! I made the pesto for lunch today and absolutely loved it!! Thank you!!
Is this Gut-Friendly?
Can you used other nuts or seeds besides pine nuts
You could try pistachios!
I love pesto, and this is my favorite recipe, healthy or not! We live an active life-style, and do watch what we eat. Most pesto’s are diet killers, but not this one! I love to cook and would be considered “a foodie.” Kudos to this recipe as it is creamy and perfect!
So happy to hear that, Chris! Love this one (I use it in so many recipes!)
this pesto sauce looks delicious I’m going to try it….
Hope you love it!
Tastes fantastic, thanks
So happy to hear that David!
I love using pesto on pizza. Can this pesto be baked on crust?
I do too! This one does have avocado in it, so I would probably recommend adding it after the pizza is baked.
Hey Monquie! You are truly a friend in my head….LOL
This was amazing! I am going to grill some chicken and have it on a sandwich with spinach and tomato. YUMMY!
Hi Lisa! So happy to hear that 🙂 and that sandwich sounds SO delicious. Enjoy!
delicious and love the healthy fats thanks to avocado!
This recipe was on point. I didn’t even miss the oil. I forgot the salt and it was still amazing. Nom nom.
Glad you enjoyed! Love this one on so many recipes.
How many servings does this make? I know it says one, but I can’t imagine it only produces 1/4 cup of pesto? Thanks so much! I can’t wait to try it.
Oops! This makes 2-4 servings depending on what its used for!
This recipe is incredibly delicious, quick and easy! Thank you for sharing it! I made this pesto with my own home grown basil and lemons. I served the sauce alongside chicken and mushrooms with soy bean pasta – best combo – sprinkled some roasted pine nuts on top with fresh basil when serving. Can recommend – leaves you feeling satisfied but not too rich in flavour.
Amazing! So glad you love this one. Sounds delicious with your pasta dish 🙂
I love this pesto, but not as much as the cilantro pistachio one on the AK website. But both are used for different types of recipes. The only thing I would knock is that you definitely should make it and use it right away, the avocado can brown the pesto in places fairly quickly. Otherwise it’s delicious, easy, affordable, and a great way to lighten up pesto! 🙂
This recipe was like the marriage of guacamole and basil pesto. It was very good, easy to make, and a hit with a group of people. Not oily like regular pesto (much as I love pesto, it’s just too sinful), still very tasty thanks to the parmesan; although it is best used as a dip or a sandwich spread rather then with pasta.. I added a teaspoon of sundried tomatoes.
Absolutely! So glad it was a hit!
Hi Monique, I want to make this recipe right NOW! Unfortunately, I only have cheddar cheese on hand. Do you think it would work ?
Hi, Amaira! I think it’s important to use a hard cheese like parmesan in here, as a soft cheese might not blend in as well. You could definitely try it, but ideally you’d use parm!
So you cannot keep it in the fridge with an avocado… the pesto gonna turn brown… right ?
I’d recommend storing it in an airtight container or sealed mason jar, and if you’d like you could put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto to prevent it from browning 🙂 And it’s best if eaten within a couple days!
This is one of my favorite recipes to use basil from my summer garden. So simple, delicious, and you don’t miss all the fat and calories one bit!
😍 So happy to hear you love it so much!
This recipe is so delicious!! My whole family loved it.
Aw thank you! So glad to hear that 🙂
Just made this and love it! I added a lot more avocado since I was given a lot that was going to go bad real soon, so it came out more guacamole-like. Sometimes I get too much basil on my plant, so I’m looking forward to making it with more basil next time, which will probably make it more pesto-y, and without having to add oil. I like how the proportions of each ingredient can vary and will give me either guacamole or pesto!
I made this vegan by adding nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. I also added walnuts instead of pine nuts, since I happen to have it.
I’m so glad I found this recipe, I love basil but never liked pesto on pasta as it’s too oily. I used 1 small avocado, and just 2 Tbs water as I didn’t add the pine nuts. I added 1/2 tsp salt. To me this was 1 serving, I ate the lot with spaghetti, chickpeas & tomatoes.
I converted the recipe to metric & used 20g basil and 22.5g grated parmesan.
Yay! I am so glad you found this recipe and are loving it. Thank you so much for sharing the metrics, I appreciate it!