If nothing else, this vegan pesto pasta has flavor! No cheese necessary to make this almond pesto with basil and garlic shine. Stir into your favorite pasta with crisp green beans for a simple and delicious dinner.
In the middle of a frigid winter it is a good idea to remind yourself that summer will inevitably follow. A bright pesto, fragrant with fresh basil will melt any icicles that have started to grow over your increasingly cynical soul and evoke those warm days to come.
So while this may seem like a summertime recipe, with the availability of fresh basil in our grocery stores year round, it’s an anytime recipe. And a quick and easy one at that!
The images have shaved parmesan cheese on them which obviously is not dairy-free but you can leave it off or substitute vegan cheese.
Why This Vegan Pesto Pasta Is The BEST!
- This vegan pesto sauce is great on pasta, but also awesome on lots of other dishes. Try it in potato or pasta salads or tossed with roasted veggies.
- Great make-ahead recipe. The pesto keeps in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freezer for a month.
- Quick and very easy.
- Delicious as a main or a side. I often serve this pasta with my world famous ribs.
- Whole almonds. I like almonds but you could substitute pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, or even sunflower seeds or pepitas.
- Fresh basil: Essential for that classic pesto flavor.
- Garlic: Fresh cloves of garlic are best.
- Kosher salt: I always use Morton kosher salt unless otherwise specified.
- Olive oil: I use California olive oil because it tends to be fresher.
- Rigatoni or other favorite pasta
- Fresh green beans: Trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
How To Make It!
Toast the nuts. Spread almonds in an even layer in a medium frying pan and place over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until almonds are fragrant and golden. Remove to a plate and let cool. Chop half for garnish and keep the other half whole.
Make a nut butter. I learned this pesto-making method from my friend Aida and I’ve never looked back. The first step to making a silky pesto sauce is to first create a loose nut butter with the nuts. Combine the whole almonds, oil, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or Vitamix blender if you have one) fitted with the blade attachment. Start grinding the nuts on low speed until they start to break up then increase the speed to medium and keep processing until the mixture is a paste consistency.
Add basil. Wash the basil leaves but don’t dry—you want the leaves to be wet. Tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces and add to the food processor and blend just enough to make a smooth sauce. If it is too thick, add a couple teaspoons of cold water. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Cook pasta and beans. Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add rigatoni and cook according to package instructions. Add green beans during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid then drain.
Combine. Scrape pesto into the pot you cooked the pasta in or into a large bowl. Add the reserved water, pasta, and green beans. Toss to coat in the sauce.
Serve. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Serve in bowls topped with the remaining chopped nuts and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
Vegan Pesto Pasta FAQ’s
Is this gluten-free? It can be! You just need to use gluten-free pasta.
What other veggies can I use? Swap the green beans for chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, spinach, or zucchini.
How do I store it? The pesto can be frozen into individual portions by filling an ice cube tray with the sauce then popping out the cubes of pesto whenever you want!
More Pasta Recipes To Try!
- The Best Pasta Fagioli Recipe (silky tomato broth, beans, and pasta—yum!)
- Pasta with Braised Chicken and Sausage (fall-apart tender chicken and savory sausage)
- Spaghetti with Tomato-Mushroom Sauce (the meaty mushrooms are so good)
- Homemade Egg Noodles in Spring Vegetable Soup (chewy egg noodles in broth)
- Chicken with Artichokes and Angel Hair Pasta (delicate and perfect for spring)
- Creamy Chicken and Noodle Casserole (rich and decadent with whole wheat pasta)
- Pesto Artichoke and Asparagus Pasta (another divine vegan pesto pasta recipe)
Homemade Is Always The Answer
Why buy a jar of pesto when making it yourself is so easy? Let me know when you make it by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @katesbestrecipes so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) !
Vegan Pesto Pasta with Green Beans
- Toast nuts. Heat oven to 300°F. Spread almonds on a oven-safe frying pan and toast until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely. Chop 1/4 cup of the nuts for garnish and set aside.
- Start pesto. Combine remaining 1/4 cup of the cooled almonds, the oil, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or Vitamix if you have one) fitted with the blade attachment. Start grinding the nuts on low speed until they start to break up then increase the speed to medium and keep processing until the mixture is a paste consistency.
- Add basil. Wash the basil leaves but don't dry—you want the leaves to be wet. Tear the larger leaves into smaller pieces and add to the food processor and pulse just enough to make a smooth sauce. If it is too thick, add a couple teaspoons of cold water. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Cook pasta and beans. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add rigatoni and cook according to package instructions. Add green beans during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Drain, saving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Toss. Scrape pesto into the pot you cooked the pasta in. Add the reserved water, pasta, and green beans. Toss to coat in the sauce.
- Serve. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Serve in bowls topped with the remaining chopped nuts and a sprinkling of chile flakes.
- Make-ahead. Pesto can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Toasting nuts. Toast in the oven like the instructions say or on the stove top. Watch very closely and stir often if using the stove top method.
- Salting. Add a decent amount of salt to the pasta water. The water itself should taste like sea water. Yes, that salty.
- Cooking pasta. Don’t overcook the pasta. Start tasting to see if it is ready about 2 minutes before the package says it should be. It should resist your bite but not be uncooked in the middle.
- Pesto. Pesto shouldn’t be cooked over heat. It warms just enough with the heat of the pasta and pasta cooking liquid.
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