This vegan pesto pasta is easy to make and packed with flavor. The key to a good pesto is to use fresh, good quality nuts and a lot of fresh basil. I’m using roasted pistachios here; you can also substitute with pine nuts. The more flavorful your nuts are, the more flavorful your pesto will be. Combine this pesto sauce with some al dente pasta and pasta cooking liquid for the perfect, creamy and delicious pasta dish. You can also add some blanched seasonal vegetables for a healthy, nutritious variation of this dish.
The Best Vegan Pesto Pasta
- 8 oz fettuccine or pasta of choice (half of a 1 lb bag of pasta)
- ¼ cup roasted & salted pistachios
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 packed cups basil leaves (2 oz)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup pasta cooking liquid
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. (This water should be generously salted and taste like the sea)
- While the water is coming to boil, make the pesto. Process pistachios, nutritional yeast, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper in a food processor until the pistachios are broken down into a coarse flour like texture. Add basil leaves and process until well broken down. With the motor running, slowly stream in lemon juice and olive oil and process until oil is emulsified and pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few speckles of green.
- When the pot of water comes up to a boil, add 8 oz of pasta and cook until al dente (follow package instructions). Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, then drain. Immediately toss the pasta vigorously with pesto sauce and a little splash of pasta cooking liquid. Add more pasta cooking liquid if needed. Stir until pasta is glossy, creamy, and well coated with sauce. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.
- If you want to roast your own nuts, preheat oven to 350°F. Toast nuts in a rimmed baking sheet until golden, about 5-10 minutes. Let it cool, and then use it for the pesto sauce recipe.
- I recommend using long pasta like fettuccine for a simple pesto pasta version, and recommend using short pasta like rigatoni, penne, or fusilli, if you want to add some roasted or blanched vegetables to your pesto pasta dish.
- You can make pesto sauce ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.