This yummy Vegan Pesto Pasta is layered with flavor and can be made in just 30 minutes! It's pasta and baby tomatoes tossed in a simple pesto sauce made using fresh arugula and toasted walnuts. Then topped with more fresh arugula and vegan parmesan. This dish is a delicious break from the classic red sauce!
I love pesto! So I decided to create this light and healthy pasta dish. It's full of fresh veggies and tossed in a delicious pesto that is an Italian classic.
But it's not your typical pesto sauce. It has no basil in it, which is what people typically think of when they hear the word pesto. The basil has been replaced with fresh arugula and toasted walnuts are used in place of pine nuts.
For those of you who don't know, Italy has many regions and the food can vary a great deal from region to region. I think it's partially what makes Italian cooking so interesting and the food so darn good!
In fact, in Italy there are actually many different types of pesto. This version with arugula and walnuts is typically found in Southern Italy, whereas the pesto that you find in most grocery stores made with basil originated in Northern Italy. I first had this type of pesto when traveling in Italy and it quickly became my favorite.
This recipe is pretty basic and doesn't require any hard to find ingredients. But for the best results be sure to use the freshest ingredients and a better quality olive oil. In Italian cooking the quality of the ingredients can make a big difference in the finished dish.
- Pasta- You can use any type of pasta you want including gluten-free.
- Baby Tomatoes- Any type of bite size tomato will do.
- Walnuts- Be sure to remove all the shells before making the pesto.
- Arugula- Use fresh vibrant arugula for the best flavor.
- Garlic- Fresh garlic is the best for this recipe.
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes- You can find this ingredient in most health food grocery stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.
- Lemon- You will need a whole lemon for both the juice and zest.
- Salt- I used sea salt.
- Pepper- Fresh ground black pepper works best.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil- A good quality extra virgin olive oil will really make your pesto stand out.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese- Used as a garnish. Check out this quick and easy recipe to make your own.
How To Make Pesto Pasta
This recipe only takes 30 minutes and is super easy to make, but does require a food processor or immersion blender.
To start, you will first need to make your pesto. To do that you will begin by toasting your walnuts in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F until golden brown.
Once the walnuts are toasted you will add all the remaining pesto ingredients except for the extra virgin olive oil and water to the bowl of a food processor and then pulse all the ingredients together until they are well chopped. Then you will add the oil by slowly drizzling it in a stream into your food processor as it is running. It's very important not to add the oil all at once, so take your time. After you have added the oil if the pesto seems to thick you can add about a tablespoon of warm water to thin it out.
Now that your pesto is ready, cook your pasta of choice according to the package directions. Then drain it and put it back into the pot. Next, add your pesto sauce to the cooked pasta along with the baby tomatoes and toss to combine. Finally, taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
To serve, top the vegan pesto pasta with fresh arugula and vegan parmesan cheese.
How To Store
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 days. Sadly this dish does not freeze well. However, leftover pesto sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months in an airtight container. When you are ready to use the pesto just remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw out at room temperature.
You will love this Vegan Pesto Pasta because it's...
- Light and healthy
- Full of fresh veggies
- Layered with flavor
- 30 minute meal
If you try this recipe please let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment and rating. You can also hashtag #danceswithknives with a photo of your creation on Instagram where you can find me @dances_with_knives.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlicky Mushrooms
- Yummy Thai Peanut Noodles
- Simple Marinara Sauce Recipe
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Vegan Pesto Pasta with Arugula and Walnuts
Arugula Walnut Pesto (Makes 1 cup)
- ⅓ cup toasted walnuts
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch black pepper
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water (optional)
Pasta & Tomatoes
- 8 oz fusilli or any type of pasta (about 3 cups)
- 1 pint baby or cherry tomatoes (about 25-30)
- 2 cups arugula
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese (recipe here)
- Lemon wedges
- To begin, you want to start your pesto sauce by toasting the raw walnuts in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. This step is not an absolute must, but the pesto will come out much better if you take the few extra minutes to do this.
- Once the walnuts are done toasting, start bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta.
- Next, add all the remaining pesto ingredients into the bowl of your food processor along with your toasted walnuts EXCEPT FOR THE OLIVE OIL and WATER. Then pulse until well chopped and mixed.
- Now, as the food processor is running slowly add in the olive oil in a stream. It’s important not to add the oil too quickly at this stage. Then continue running the food processor until the pesto is well combined and smooth. If the pesto is still a tad too thick after you have added the oil, you can add about a tablespoon of water to thin it out.
- Prepare the pasta according to the package directions in your salted boiling water.
- While the pasta is cooking cut the bigger tomatoes in half if need be. You want them to be bite size.
- Drain the pasta once done and then put back into the pot. Now, mix in the pesto sauce. At this point if it seems too dry to your liking you can add more olive oil or a touch of warm water.
- Then add in the tomatoes and give it a toss.
- Taste and season to your liking with salt and fresh ground pepper. But keep in mind that if you are planning to garnish with the vegan parmesan cheese that will add a touch of salt.
- To complete the dish, top with more fresh arugula, vegan parmesan cheese, and lemon wedges if desired.
- This dish can be eaten hot or cold.