Creamy pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes and undetectable spinach!? Hello, summer! This vibrant, satisfying, vegan, and (optionally) gluten-free pasta dish is SO delicious, and surprisingly quick & easy to make. We love it for nights when we’re craving comforting pasta but don’t want to miss out on a serving (or two) of veggies!
Origin of Pesto
Pesto is a sauce that is believed to have originated in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. It’s thought to have evolved from a 13th-century garlic-based sauce called aggiadda or from the tradition of using aromatic herbs in the Middle Ages.
The first written recipe for pesto was from Giovanni Battista Ratto in his 19th-century work The Genoese cuisine. This recipe was a mix of garlic, basil, and cheese (source).
For this pasta, we’ve infused the flavors of pesto into a creamy, plant-based sauce.
How to Make Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta
This 30-minute recipe starts with cooking pasta (choose your favorite type!) and (optionally) roasting cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and sweetness.
A creamy, cashew-based sauce comes together in minutes while the pasta and tomatoes are cooking.
Simply blend up raw cashews with vegan pesto essentials including basil, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. We add spinach for a pop of color and nutrition, plus water to help it blend together.
Then pour the vibrant green sauce over the cooked pasta, (optionally) top with the roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and vegan parmesan cheese, and dig in!
We hope you LOVE this pesto pasta! It’s:
Quick & easy
& SO delicious!
It’s an easy weeknight meal on its own or paired with Crispy Baked Tofu or Easy Grilled Chicken. It would also pair nicely with salads, including our Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad, Chickpea Caesar Salad, or Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.
More Plant-Based Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Vegan Pink Pasta (30 Minutes!)
- Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Hemp Pesto (V/GF)
- Creamy Vegan White Pasta with Summer Vegetables
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta (Vegan + GF)
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta (30 Minutes!)
ROASTED TOMATOES optional
- 2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 healthy pinch sea salt
- Water (for boiling)
- Salt (for seasoning water)
- 12 oz. dry pasta (for gluten-free, we like Jovial or Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Quinoa Fusilli // use a chickpea or other legume-based pasta for more protein)
CREAMY PESTO SAUCE
- 2/3 cup raw cashews*
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil, large stems removed
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
FOR SERVING optional
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese (or store-bought)
- Freshly chopped basil
- ROASTED TOMATOES (optional, but recommended for a pop of color and sweetness): Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Arrange tomatoes cut side down, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 25-30 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and the skins have shriveled slightly.
- PASTA: Add 3 quarts (~3 liters) of water and 1 Tbsp salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta, stir, and set a timer according to your pasta package instructions.
- PESTO SAUCE: Meanwhile, to a high-speed blender, add cashews, water, basil, spinach, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend on high until smooth and no bits of cashew remain — about 1 minute. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more lemon juice for brightness, cashews for richness, nutritional yeast for savory notes, or salt to taste.
- Test pasta for doneness. When it’s ready, drain the pasta and rinse under cold water until it’s warm but no longer steaming. Return the pasta to the pot (off the heat) and add in the basil pesto sauce. Stir to coat, but avoid heating as the sauce will lose its bright green color.
- Divide between serving bowls and garnish with roasted tomatoes, vegan parmesan cheese, and freshly chopped basil (all optional).
- Leftovers keep stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave or a saucepan, adding a little water as needed to rehydrate.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli and 1/4 tsp salt in the pasta water (since the full tablespoon isn’t absorbed into the pasta), and without optional ingredients.
*Loosely adapted from our Creamy Vegan Pink Pasta and Easy Vegan Pesto.