Easy Veggie Pesto Pasta (vegan + gluten free)
Servings: 4 servings
For the Pasta
- 5 - 6 cups seasonal veggies (zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red pepper)
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 6-8 ounces pasta (any short pasta like rotini)
For the Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups basil
- 1 cup arugula
- 1-2 cloves garlic (small)
- ¼ cup walnuts (cashews, pine nuts, almonds)
- 2+ tablespoons dairy-free parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Optional Pasta Additions
- 2-4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted nuts
- 10 leaves basil, ribbons
Preparing the Vegetables
Cut vegetables into similar size pieces so they will cook at the same speed.Root or harder vegetables may need to be chopped smaller so they cook at same time as softer veggies..
Toss with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Oven Roasting the Vegetables
Sauteing the Vegetables - Stovetop Method
Foil Pack Vegetables on the Grill
Preheat the BBQ on high heat with the lid closed.
Divide prepared vegetables between two or three pieces of foil. Make a packet around them by sealing the top and sides before grilling (see recipe notes below for how to make a tinfoil packet).
Cook over high (to medium high) heat for about 15-18 minutes depending on veggie type and size.
Be very careful removing veggie packets from the grill - they are HOT and release steam when opened!
Cooking the Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Right before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of salty starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
Making 5 Minute Pesto Sauce (or use store bought)
While the pasta cooks, make the pesto by placing all ingredients in a food processor and pulsing until smooth (stopping to scrape down the sides as needed). See recipe notes below *Pesto can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge.
Putting it All Together
Add pasta, ⅓ cup of pesto, white balsamic vinegar, sriracha, and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to a large bowl. Toss together until full incorporated.
Add more pesto sauce to taste. Add more water/vinegar as needed to create a loose creamy sauce that sticks to pasta. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Add the cooked veggies and lightly toss to incorporate.
Garnish with toasted pine nuts (or any nut), basil ribbons, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and hot pepper flakes if desired.
Basil Pesto: find more detailed instructions for on how to make homemade dairy free pesto in this post. Pesto can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge.
Pesto to Pasta Ratio: Start with around ⅓ cup pesto for 6 ounces (2 servings) of pasta and then add more to taste.
Pasta: any short cut pasta works great for this veggie pesto pasta. Use your favorite gluten free pasta or grain-free pasta as desired.
White Balsamic Vinegar: I add white balsamic vinegar because it brings a smooth, slightly sweet, zippiness. If you don't have any on hand, you can leave out or swap for another Italian acid like freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
Cooking the Vegetables (3 ways): too hot to turn the oven on? No problem, BBQ or saute the veggies! Use about 5 or 6 cups for 6-8 ounces of pasta (more or less to taste).
How to Grill Vegetables in Foil Packets:
How much Salt and what kind?: for a deep dive into salting and seasoning your food, I recommend the book, Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. An easy and interesting read that's jam packed with interesting cooking tips, stories and recommendation about building flavor and so much more. Available in bookstores, to order online, and from your local library.
Storing Leftovers: Store any leftover pasta in the fridge in a covered container to be enjoyed either warmed up in microwave or served at room temperature over the next 2 or 3 days. For best results, I don't recommend freezing.
- place prepared vegetables in the center of a flat piece of aluminum foil (not too full).
- gather the longer sides of the foil above the vegetables, and tuck/roll the foil in toward the vegetables creating a sealed top.
- repeat with each side folding and scrunching the foil in toward the vegetables.
- add an additional layer of foil if needed to keep all the juices in the tinfoil packet when grilling.
- ready to cook on the preheated grill.