One Pot Vegan Pesto Pasta
- 75 to 100 g dry pasta I usually go for the lower end of that range, unless I'm really hungry – but I'm also a short girl so use ur judgment
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto see Notes for homemade recipes
- salt to taste (see Notes)
- 1 cup baby spinach optional
- Boil pasta in a shallow pan with just enough water to cover, stirring often with a spatula or wooden spoon to prevent sticking.
- When pasta is al dente and there is a little water left in the pan, add the pesto and spinach if using. (If there's still quite a lot of water remaining, pour some off.)
- Turn off the heat and stir everything together until the pesto clings to the pasta and the spinach has wilted.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- Eat straight out of the pan if you're a savage like me or optionally plate and enjoy a slightly more sophisticated meal.
You can use any kind of pesto, jarred or homemade. If you are vegan and using pesto from a jar make sure the ingredients don’t include cheese. I have tried dandelion pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto with good results (both homemade).
How much salt to add depends on the specific recipe or brand of pesto you use, and also how much you salt your water for boiling pasta. I generally follow Serious Eats’ guide for salting pasta water, but keep in mind if you’re not planning on draining the pasta water then you should be more conservative, since all the salt you add is going to be concentrated within the dish instead of getting poured off.
Perfect for a Quick Weeknight Dinner
I first cooked up this dish in mid-June of this year during the height of assignment and midterm stress. I was very grateful to find something tasty could be made for so little time and effort. Here’s the entry from my food diary on this meal:
boil some pasta in a non-stick, throw in some pesto, add a touch more salt, boom you have cuisine
Yep, it’s that simple. Obvs you don’t have to use non-stick, but it’s what I chose that day and makes cleanup quicker. Plus, boiling pasta in a shallow pan like a non-stick skillet distributes the pasta across a wider area and allows you to use less water. I didn’t even have to drain mine. I waited until there was only a little liquid left, then turned off the heat and added the pesto directly to the pan. (The leftover pasta water mixes with the pesto to help the sauce cling to the rotini.) Voila, easy weeknight one-pot meal.
Answering Your Burning Questions
Any kind of pasta works for this recipe. It’s up to you. As you can see above, I used a short rotini shape for my green pesto and long spaghetti noodles for my red pesto.
Depends on who you talk to, but in my opinion: yes. There are some who will argue pesto is unhealthy due to the high fat content. After all, a typical pesto could contain lots of olive oil, cheese, nuts, and sodium. However, unless you’re specifically watching your fat intake or something I don’t think it’s bad for you. I mean, there are herbs and nuts in there, lol. If you can make it at home, that’s even better, since you can make sure you’re using fresh ingredients, avoid the cheese if you’re vegan, and not going overboard with the oil.
I wouldn’t be down to eat half a cup of pesto at every meal, but a few times a week is perfectly fine in my view. Pesto already has a good amount of plant nutrients, usually in the form of herbs or another flavourful ingredient like sun-dried tomatoes, but if you add some veggies with the pesto, like I do with spinach in this recipe, you’re set for a pretty healthy meal!
Nutrition and Cost Information
1 serving of pesto pasta is 599 calories and costs CAD$1.09.
Feel free to contact me for sources on the calorie and cost information presented here. Note that I am not a nutritionist and guidelines on this page are provided for informational purposes only.