Three Grain Oil-Free Pesto Salad

Vegan 3 Grain Oil-Free Pesto SaladFor the past couple of months my husband and I have been trying to eat healthier and exercise more. One of our biggest weaknesses in our diet has been oil. It is easy to over-use oils in cooking! We’ve been trying to limit and even eliminate oil altogether. This makes eating out almost impossible here in Penang. Almost everything is cooked with or fried in oil! You name the dish and I guarantee there’s oil involved: fried rice, fried noodles, curries, and laksa.Vegan 3 Grain Oil-Free Pesto Salad

Needless to say, we’ve been eating at home a lot more these days. One of my go-to weekday meals was fresh pesto pasta salad. But my usual pesto recipe calls for olive oil! So what’s a girl to do?! Thankfully, one of my favorite bloggers Oh She Glows had just what I needed. She has a wonderful and easy recipe for High Protein & Oil-Free Pesto that’s out of this world! All you need to make a rich and creamy oil-free pesto is a can of navy or cannellini beans. Who would have thought? It’s that easy.

I decided to mix three of my favorite grains together, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat, with the pesto and create a filling and flavorful salad. This salad is not only super tasty, but it’s super high in protein! You can serve this as a side dish or enjoy it as a meal. It also packs up perfectly for lunch! And if you brought this dish to a party or potluck, you’ll have people begging you for more!Vegan 3 Grain Oil-Free Pesto Salad

1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup millet
1/3 cup buckwheat
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 garlic cloves
1 15-oz can navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2-3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
2 cups cherry grape tomatoes
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt to taste


In a medium saucepan, pour the vegetable broth in with the quinoa, millet, and buckwheat and bring to a boil. Once the grains have boiled, turn down heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until all of the broth has been absorbed.

While the grains are cooking, prepare the pesto. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in the basil, navy beans, water, nutritional yeast, and fresh lemon juice and process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the grains, pesto, tomatoes, and chickpeas and mix well until everything is evenly incorporated. Taste for salt. Serve either warm or chilled. Enjoy!

About Stephanie Watkins

Welcome to my blog, I'm Stephanie. I was born and raised in sunny California but now live with my husband in Malaysia. This is where I write, cook, and photograph our new life overseas. I love taking pictures, experiencing new cultures, and eating an animal-free and plant based diet.

01. March 2013 by Stephanie Watkins
Categories: Salads, Sides | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 comments

Comments (12)

  1. That’s a good idea to add navy beans for an oil-free pesto. I often just omit the oil altogether, but it means that the pesto doesn’t stretch quite as far. Navy beans have a mild flavor that would still let the basil, lemon juice, and garlic shine.

    This dish is similar to a pesto brown rice dish that I fell in love with last summer from Spork Fed. We were eating it at least once a week. I’m sure I’ll love yours!

  2. This looks soooo good! Pesto + grains = heaven. :-) I also prefer an oil-free (or very low oil) pesto too, though I usually just add vegetable broth.

    • I know, right?! Pesto and grains are such a good combination. And I love the idea of using veggie broth!

  3. Love this, added to my to make list. I too am cutting back on fat. and frequently stir-fry with broth instead of oil.

    • That’s a great idea! I love to stir-fry…I’ll have to try broth next time :)

      • I neglected to mention, use small quantity of broth to start, stir-fry until broth evaporates and a bit of fond starts to appear (you want the stir-fry flavor), add broth, tablespoon at a time, as needed to prevent burning

  4. Oh my, this is so good! Tried it with my family tonight. I also added some avocado on top and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Pingback: Healthy Chocolate & Zucchini Muffins - Trans-Planted

  6. Mmm looks glorious. Loving your blog!

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