Our Easy Vegetarian Pesto Pasta recipe is the one I always revisit when I’m in a hurry, or just not in a mood to make an elaborate meal. It’s one of those dishes that is quick and easy to make and makes you feel good because of the sheer amount of vegetables in it. And let’s face it, eating pasta and cheese is intrinsically satisfying!
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Time To Make Homemade Pesto?
Whilst you can make it with any shop-bought pesto, it’s so much better if you have some homemade pesto leftover to use in this dish. If you have a food processor, pesto is really easy to make, but it can also be made in a pestle and mortar (especially if you’re using softer buttery nuts in your pesto, like pecans, walnuts or pinenuts). Here are two of our favourite homemade pesto recipes:
Best Vegetables To Use In Pesto Pasta
When it comes to vegetables for this pesto pasta recipe, you can be adventurous or practical, by using anything that’s in your fridge or freezer. One thing I would never skip though is fresh cherry tomatoes. They’re juicy and pop in your mouth providing extra flavours and fresh sweetness. Other vegetables that go well with pesto pasta include:
- Bell peppers.
- Garden peas (frozen or fresh).
- Broccoli or Tenderstem Broccoli.
- Spring onion.
- Herbs, like parsley, basil, chives etc.
- Mange tout.
- Green Beans.
- Baby corn.
What Cheese Goes Best With Pesto Pasta?
Who doesn’t like a mount of cheese on top of their pasta, right? We recommend using cheese that is used in your pesto, which more often than not is Parmesan. However, if you are on a tighter budget, there are some great alternatives to try. This Veggie Pesto Pasta works really well with Grana Padano or even Mature Cheddar (which is our typical choice).
What Protein Goes Well With Pesto and Pasta?
Protein in this recipe comes from garden peas and cheese, but if you wish to add extra protein to your vegetarian pesto pasta, you can chuck a bunch of additional nutritious protein-rich ingredients, including:
- Edamame beans.
- A scoop of spirulina.
- Chunks of tempeh.
And if you’re not vegetarian, some pan-fried prawns or chicken go well in this recipe too!
Want To Make It Vegan?
No problem! These days, you can find a bunch of different types of vegan pesto in large supermarkets. Our personal favourite is Sacla Vegan Basil Pesto. It’s really fragrant with basil and tastes creamy too!
Skip the cheese and use nutritional yeast instead! It’s by far our favourite vegan ingredient! We use Engevita!
Put your pasta in a pan with a pinch of salt and pour boiling water over it. Cook to packet instructions, and whilst the pasta is boiling, cook your vegetables.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add everything you’re using, except for tomatoes. Fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables are starting to soften but still retain a good amount of crunch. Two minutes away from your pasta being done, add cherry tomatoes, and stir everything together. You can add any spices or seasoning you wish, but I find that home-made pesto and cheese provide all the flavours I need.
Drain the pasta and tip in a pan with vegetables. Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto and mix together. If your pesto needs loosening, just add a splash of water (TOP TIP: save some starchy pasta water for that).
Top your pasta with a mount of cheese and dig in!
What To Serve Vegetarian Pasta With?
I love serving almost all pasta dishes on a bed of greens. Watercress, rocket, spinach, all work great. We used mixed baby leaves on this occasion.
And if you’re looking for an extra filling meal, serve your pasta with some garlic bread on the side! It can also be used to mop up any leftover pesto at the bottom of your bowl!
Other Quick Veggie Pasta Recipes
Easy Veggie Pesto Pasta
- 80 g pasta
- 4-5 cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/4 yellow pepper diced
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 50 g frozen peas
- 2 tbsp pesto ideally, home-made
- 30 g cheddar grated
- 40 g spinach, watercress or rocket, or a mixture to serve
- Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
- In the meantime, heat a tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Add all your vegetables, except for cherry tomatoes, and fry for 5-6 minutes until starting to soften but still retail quite a bit of crunch.
- When pasta is about 2 minutes away from being done, add cherry tomatoes to your vegetables and stir.
- Drain your pasta and tip into the pan with vegetables. Add pesto and stir until everything is smothered in pesto.
- Serve on a bed of greens (spinach, watercress, rocket etc.) topped with cheese.