This is an adaptation of my sundried tomato and walnut pesto, which uses nutritional yeast instead of cheese. Despite not being vegan myself, I find myself making this one more often than the original now. It’s so creamy and flavoursome, I really don’t find that I miss the cheese. Not only that, but nutritional yeast is so full of vitamins, it really boosts the overall nutritional value of the dish.

It’s served with home made orecchiette in the picture, but you could serve it with any pasta, I often serve it with short shapes such as rigatoni or penne.

Vegan red pesto

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 40g walnut halves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 35g sundried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 40g extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Heat the oven to 180’c, and spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet. Roast the walnuts for about 5-10 minutes until golden brown – not burnt! I can’t stress this enough, if they burn at all, cut your losses, bin them and start again – they will ruin the whole thing!
  • Blitz everything together in a food processor or using a stick blender – I prefer the latter for a small batch like this. Season well with salt and black pepper. Don’t be alarmed if it looks split at this point – it comes together in the next stage.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water. Put the pesto into a serving bowl, and loosen it by stirring in a ladleful of the starchy pasta cooking water. Keep stirring in the starchy water until it all comes together, and you’ll notice it turns into a beautifully creamy sauce. Add the hot, drained pasta straight into it and toss it all together to coat the pasta.
  • Serve immediately.