Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta (30 Minutes!)

GFVGVDFNS
Jump to Recipe

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 cravingcomforting 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!

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 colorand 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:

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!

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
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 20minutes
Total Time 30minutes
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

  • 2-3cupscherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1Tbspolive oil
  • 1healthy pinchsea salt

PASTA

  • Water(for boiling)
  • Salt(for seasoning water)
  • 12oz.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

  • 2/3cupraw cashews*
  • 2/3cupwater
  • 1cup tightly packedfresh basil, large stems removed
  • 2cups loosely packedfresh spinach
  • 1large clovegarlic, peeled
  • 1 ½Tbsplemon juice
  • 1Tbspnutritional yeast
  • 1/2tspsea 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: 1servingCalories: 439Carbohydrates: 74gProtein: 11.8gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 1.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 600mgPotassium: 164mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 2.3gVitamin A: 1802IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 3.8mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @minimalistbaker on Instagram and hashtag it #minimalistbaker so we can see all the deliciousness!

If you love this recipe...

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating! Cancel reply

  1. Daniellesays

    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!!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yay! Thanks so much for the lovely review, Danielle. We’re so glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  2. Carasays

    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!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

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

      Reply
  3. Ashleigh Hamiltonsays

    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!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yum, that combo sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing, Ashleigh! xo

      Reply
  4. Annekesays

    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!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

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

      Reply
  5. Monisasays

    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.

    Reply
  6. Mariesays

    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

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      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!

      Reply
  7. Kimsays

    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.

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Amazing!! We’re so glad you both enjoyed it, Kim. Thank you for sharing! xo

      Reply
  8. Colleensays

    Mine was a little thin because I used too much lemon, but very tasty recipe. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      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 =)

      Reply
  9. Caitlinsays

    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

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

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

      Reply
  10. Miriam Davissays

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

    Thanks,
    Miriam

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      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!

      Reply
  11. rickisays

    Can you use cashew butter in place of raw cashews? if so, how would you adjust the recipe?

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

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

      Reply