Who doesn’t love penne pasta pesto? It is one of that dishes that both children and adults equally love. We have our thanks to the Italians for giving us so many different types and varieties of pasta dishes. It is such a versatile ingredient. You can use it as a main course, or for salads as well. 

Pesto Penne Pasta Recipe

Italians are amazing when it comes to making pasta. Their pasta dishes are clean, flavorsome, simple, and elegant. And above all, they have vegan recipes as well. Way to go! See Vegan Pesto Pasta and Vegan Mac And Cheese.

Other than that, it is very much vegan and very much Italian dish. It is flavorsome, delicious, easy to make, and finger-licking good. On days when you don’t feel like cooking, this pasta dish is very comforting. And the best part is, you can happily prepare it in advance and save it from being eaten later in the week. 

If you haven’t tried pesto pasta before, I see no reason for not trying it out! Its flavors are unique, herbaceous, and amazingly delicious. 

pesto penne pasta close up

What Is Pesto?

Pesto is a sauce that is quite popular among food enthusiasts. Its popularity is hidden in its bright green color and rich flavor. This sauce is super healthy and very versatile. You can use it as a dip, a spread for your sandwiches, and as a base for pasta as well. See Vegan Kale Pesto.

Pesto sauce is originated from Italy and has quite a presence in Italian cuisine. However, if we dig deep into its history, we can see that pesto sauce has been used in ancient Rome. Of course, the ingredients were not on spot, but they used a sauce very similar to modern-day pesto. 

Those who haven’t used this sauce before, We are just glad we have it? It is magical! The flavor is rich and has depth to it. It is quite complex as well. It is garlicky, herbaceous, salty, and grassy. 

close up penne pasta

Can You Make Pesto At Home?

Although most of us have switched to store-bought products, making one at home has its benefits. For one, it is free from preservatives. It is fresh, and you get premium grade quality. Something no one can guarantee. Just like many other sauces, you can also make pesto at home. In fact, it is super easy to make. Although the traditional pesto sauce includes parmesan cheese, for our vegan version, we are going to skip it. You can use vegan parmesan if you like. The choice is yours. Here is how you can make vegan pesto at home effortlessly:

  • First, you have to collect the ingredients. The ingredients include:
      • Water
      • Walnuts
      • Basil
      • Spinach
      • Garlic
      • Nutritional Yeast Flakes
      • Salt
  • Once you have everything, wash the fresh basil leaves and spinach leaves to get rid of dirt and debris.
  • Next, place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. 
  • Pulse until you get a smooth thick paste.
  • Take it out in an air-tight container and refrigerate. How simple is this?

For those who don’t like the flavor of basil much, we have another amazing pesto recipe. It is quite different from the traditional ones and therefore is perfect for those who don’t like the traditional pesto and its flavor. This recipe has the same preparation method. However, the ingredients are completely different. Here is everything you need for this pesto recipe:

  • Parsley
  • fresh spinach leaves
  • fresh rosemary leaves
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • walnuts 
  • olive oil

blend it in the blender or food processor and store it in an air-tight container. This version has a rich parsley flavor and the aroma of rosemary. It is also fairly tasteful. However, we are going to stick to the traditional pesto for our recipe today.

Ingredient Breakdown

Here is a detailed breakdown of everything you need for this delicious dish:

  • Pasta: The main ingredient is pasta. Although I have used penne, but you can use any shape. You can choose any type of pasta, whether wholewheat or not. I have sued gluten-free.
  • Olive oil: A dash of olive oil to sauté onion is more than enough.
  • Onion: You can either use white or red onion for the purpose. Onion sets a base for the sauce.
  • Bell Pepper: Bell peppers not just taste delicious but also add a unique texture and color to the dish.
  • Coconut cream: coconut cream is a magical ingredient. It makes the pasta creamy, flavorful, and rich. 
  • Pesto: another main ingredient is the pesto. This dark green paste is super flavorsome and healthy. It is the best thing ever!
penne pasta noodles

How To Make Penne Pasta Pesto?

Making pesto pasta is very easy. You can prepare it in literally 20 minutes. Here are a few simple steps you have to follow for perfectly cooked pesto penne pasta:

Step 1: Cook gluten-free penne pasta as per the pack’s directions. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: in a pan, add a dash of olive oil and sauté chopped onions.

Step 3: once the onions turn translucent, add pesto and bell peppers and cook for a minute.

Step 4: Add coconut cream and let simmer for a minute or two.

Step 5: Once the mixture starts to thicken up, add cooked penne pasta and mix well.

Step 6: Serve hot.

pouring coconut milk in pesto pasta

Tips And Tricks For Perfect Penne Pasta Pesto

Although making pesto penne pasta is super easy, here are a few things you have to keep in mind:

  • When blending the ingredients for pesto, make sure the herbs and spinach leaves are clean. Rinse them a couple of times so that you don’t get the dirt in your mouth.
  • If you have pesto paste, sticking to the blender, use olive oil to clean it. Every last bit is precious.
  • You can use cherry tomatoes instead of bell peppers. It will not only enhance the flavor but will also add color. You can use sun-dried tomatoes as well.
  • Although penne pasta is perfect for this dish, you can use spaghetti as well.
  • Garnish it with vegan parmesan cheese.
  • You can also create a vegetable-friendly version by adding broccoli or zucchini to it.
  • Furthermore, you can also replace pasta with butternut squash noodles or zucchini noodles for a healthier and truly vegan version.
  • penne pasta being poured in saucepan with pesto sauce

What To Serve With Pesto Pasta?

Pesto pasta is a powerful dish that doesn’t need any side dish to compliment it. However, you can still serve it with some amazing sides. Here are a few to name:

  • Bread: serve it alongside vegan bread-like garlic bread. It adds a crunchy element to the dish and complements it well.
  • Flatbread: you can also make pesto flatbreads and serve them with pesto pasta.
  • Salad: you can serve it with fresh garden salad or chickpea salad on the side. 

Other Vegan Pasta Recipes

  1. Vegan Italian Pasta Salad
  2. Vegan Rasta Pasta
  3. Easy Vegan Rotini Pasta
  4. Vegan Baked Ziti
  5. Instant Pot Vegan Chili Mac And Cheese
  6. Vegan Macaroni Salad
  7. 20 Minute Pasta With Asparagus

How To Store Pesto Pasta?

Pesto pasta is among those dishes that last longer than most. You can place it in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator. It will last for more than a week. Furthermore, you can also store it in the freezer. Expect it to last for about three months.

Moreover, you can also refrigerate pesto sauce. It will last in the refrigerator for about a week and three months in the freezer. So, whenever you crave pesto pasta, you can make it fresh within a few minutes. 

overlay penne pasta on a grey background in a saucepan

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Nutrition

(Per serving)
  • Energy: 322 kcal / 1346 kJ
  • Fat: 15.6 g
  • Protein: 10.3 g
  • Carbs: 37.9 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 15 min
  • Ready in: 25 min
  • For: 4 servings

Ingredients

For The Pesto

For The Pasta

Instructions

  1. Cook gluten-free penne pasta as per the pack's directions in salted water. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. To prepare the pesto, add water, walnuts, basil, spinach, garlic, nutritional yeast flakes, and salt to a high-speed blender or food process and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion, and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the prepared pesto, coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Gentle fold in the pasta and stir to coat. Season with salt to taste and serve topped with vegan parmesan.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.