Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta (30 Minutes!)

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Two bowls of vegan pesto pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes

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! 

It’s a filling meal on its own, but it also pairs well with Crispy Baked Tofu or Easy Grilled Chicken. Just 8 ingredients and 30 minutes required. Let us show you how it’s done!

Cashews, basil, water, olive oil, salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, spinach, lemon, tomatoes, and noodles

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.

Halved cherry tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet

A creamy, cashew-based sauce comes together in minutes while the pasta and tomatoes are cooking.

Blender with spinach, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, cashews, and water

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.

Creamy green pesto sauce in a blender

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!

Pot of noodles coated in a green cashew pesto sauce

We hope you LOVE this pesto pasta! It’s:

Creamy
Satisfying
Vibrant
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

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!

Hand resting on a bowl of creamy vegan pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes

Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta (30 Minutes!)

Creamy vegan pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes and undetectable spinach! The perfect quick, comforting dish for a weeknight dinner, with just 8 ingredients and 30 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Overhead shot of a bowl of creamy vegan pesto pasta
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 (1 ½-cup servings)
Course Entree
Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

ROASTED TOMATOES optional

  • 2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 healthy pinch sea salt

PASTA

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*We didn’t find soaking the cashews necessary in this recipe when using a high-speed blender (Vitamix). If not using a powerful blender, soak the cashews in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Then drain and blend.
*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.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 439 Carbohydrates: 74 g Protein: 11.8 g Fat: 12 g Saturated Fat: 1.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.8 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 600 mg Potassium: 164 mg Fiber: 4.7 g Sugar: 2.3 g Vitamin A: 1802 IU Vitamin C: 8 mg Calcium: 56 mg Iron: 3.8 mg

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  1. Danielle says

    This is going to be my new go-to meal for busy nights! So simple yet flavorful! I added sautéed mushrooms for a little extra protein + veg. Thank you for this recipe!!

  2. Cara says

    Absolutely delicious! I made the suggested crispy baked tofu as a topping (which was also incredible) and strongly recommend to add more protein / make more filling. The roasted cherry tomatoes are a must *AND I’d like to recommend adding toasted pine nuts when stirring it all together. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup? Thanks for a marvelous recipe! Your recipes have been life-changing for me!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, this is SO great to hear, Cara! And love your idea to add pine nuts too! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  3. Ashleigh Hamilton says

    This recipe was absolutely delicious! I made it for my boyfriend and myself last night, paired it with some balsamic chicken. It popped off. I will definitely be making it again soon!

  4. Anneke says

    This pasta was amazing! I replaced the spinach with peas to give a little different flavor. I do not have a high speed blender so I soaked the cashews but the sauce wasn’t 100% smooth. Will definitely make again though!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Anneke! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  5. Monisa says

    Can the pesto sauce be frozen and defrosted later? I’m one person so would love to be able to freeze it in batches of one or two servings.

  6. Marie says

    Hello, I live in an area where it is hard to get American Spinach. Could I use frozen spinach for this recipe and if I cannot find frozen spinach what other type of greens can I use as a substitute? Thanks

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Marie, we think the flavor of frozen spinach would be too strong, but a small amount might work! Spinach has a more mild flavor than other greens, but it’s possible a lesser amount of kale or chard could also work. Hope that helps!

  7. Kim says

    Made this tonight and it was a huge hit! Followed the recipe exactly as written except added a little extra pasta to use up the whole box. My husband couldn’t even tell spinach was in the sauce when he tried to guess the ingredients.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Colleen! Adding more cashews will help remedy that. It will also thicken a bit in the refrigerator so the leftovers should be even better =)

  8. Caitlin says

    This was delicious! Added a small shallot since it was on its last day and it added this delicious sweetness to the sauce that was superb! Highly suggest trying but this recipe was so easy and delish! Thanks for another great one <3

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Caitlin! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  9. Miriam Davis says

    Hi Dana, Nutritional Yeast bothers my stomach something awful :( Can I substitute it for something else? Love your recipes!!

    Thanks,
    Miriam

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Miriam, we tested without it and it’s still tasty, just not quite as flavorful! You could leave it out or try subbing a little chickpea or white miso paste. Hope that helps!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ricki, we haven’t tested that, but it could work! Perhaps try 1/4 cup? Let us know how it goes!