A simple vegetarian pesto pasta you can serve hot or cold as a side dish or a complete meal with chicken or chickpeas.
Pesto pasta is an easy meal for a mid-week dinner or to serve when entertaining. You can enjoy the leftovers hot or cold. However, you are unlikely to have leftovers as the recipe is for a single portion.
How to make vegetarian pesto pasta?
Basically, this recipe includes your choice of pasta and veggies combined with pesto and topped with a sprinkling of cheese.
For added protein and to make it a complete meal, I combine shredded chicken, crispy roasted chickpeas or slices of cooked tempeh or chicken.
This dish could be made super easy by using store-bought pesto, frozen veggies, grated cheese and smoked chicken.
Alternatively, you could use fresh veggies, make your own pesto and cook your own chicken. The choice is yours and will depend on the time you have available.
What is the perfect pasta for this pesto dish?
Larger-shaped pasta is perfect for this dish.
I recommend spiral, penne or bow tie pasta. However, I have also made it with spaghetti when that’s all I had in the pantry. So, it’s versatile.
The pesto will help keep the pasta separated so it doesn’t clump together. Just combine the pesto immediately before the pasta has a chance to cool.
Do not rinse the pasta once cooked. The starch in the cooking water will help the pesto stick to the pasta.
Choosing your pesto
Pesto pasta is delicious with either basil or sundried tomato pesto.
Veggies that go well with basil pesto are:
- small broccoli florets
- green beans
- fresh baby spinach leaves
- sautéed asparagus or zucchini
Try sprinkling with pumpkin seeds or capers for added texture and flavour.
Veggies that go well with sundried tomato pesto:
- steamed carrots
- roasted or sautéed capsicum
- roasted onion
- roasted cherry tomatoes
Try sprinkling with crumbled feta or slices of sundried tomatoes.
Serving vegetarian pesto pasta
You can serve this dish hot or cold.
To make this pesto pasta a complete meal, serve alongside a protein or combine a protein into the dish.
I recommend combining shredded chicken into the pasta and coating it with the pesto.
Alternatively, serve with slices of cooked chicken or tempeh or sprinkle with half a cup of crispy roasted chickpeas.
If reheating the pesto pasta, place it in a microwave-safe dish and cover. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between to ensure it warms through. If the pasta starts to dry, drizzle it with olive oil or water partway through reheating.
Make it gluten-free
Switch out the pasta for gluten-free pasta, such as rice or legume pasta.
Make it vegan
Use a vegan, dairy-free pesto and omit the Parmesan cheese. Try my Vegan Parmesan ‘Cheese’.
How to store leftover pesto pasta
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Cool it beforehand.
I wouldn’t freeze it. It may not have a great texture when defrosted. Also, the pesto can become bitter and an unappealing dark colour.
I reckon you could eat it within five days, and the recipe is for one serving!
Have you tried this recipe?
I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it and what combination of pesto and veggies you went with. Let me know in the comments below.
Vegetarian Pesto Pasta
- 1 saucepan
- 1 Colander
- 1 Grater
- 1 Measuring Cup
- 1 cup cooked pasta, penne, spiral or bow tie (½ – ¾ uncooked)
- 2 tablespoons pesto, homemade or store-brought
- 2 tablespoons cheese, Parmesan, Edam or Colby
- ½ cup steamed or sautéed veggies
- Pinch pepper
- Cook pasta as per packet instructions. Drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the veggies.
- Once the pasta is cooked, stir through pesto. Combine the veggies into the pasta or serve on the side.
- Serve with shredded chicken or chickpeas mixed into or on top of the pasta—your choice.