Walnut Pesto Pasta

You won't miss the pine nuts in this walnut pesto pasta! A more affordable version of vegan pesto that makes it easy to enjoy this classic Italian dish without breaking the bank!
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Close up of a neutral dish of vegan walnut pesto pasta with some decorative basil
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What do you do when you’re craving a rich and creamy pasta with a particular summer-like sensation? It’s really a no-brainer. You make a beautiful green batch of our walnut pesto pasta, pronto! Fantastically fresh, vibrant, and as enjoyable for the eyes as it is for the stomach.

The combination of fragrant, shiny basil leaves with crumbly, nutty walnuts makes for an incredibly flavorful pesto sauce that’s out of this world! Pour in a half of a cup of smooth, golden olive oil and a pound of your favorite pasta and you’ve got yourself a truly mouthwatering meal. You’ll not only impress your guests, but your taste buds as well!

Do you know why we think this pesto pasta recipe is so perfect for a luscious lunch or delightful dinner? Keep reading to find out more!

Why Does This Pesto Use Walnuts instead of Pine Nuts?

You might be skeptical about this recipe because it’s made with walnuts instead of pine nuts (which are traditionally used in pesto). We chose walnuts because they’re much less expensive than pine nuts (which can cost 4x or 5x more than other nuts). But guess what? This pesto tastes almost exactly the same as pesto made with pine nuts.

Don’t believe us? Just give it a try. We’ve served this to many pesto lovers and many non-vegans and it always gets rave reviews. Many people have shared that they actually like it better than their favorite pesto.

What Are the Health Benefits of Walnuts?

Walnuts not only resemble a human brain in shape and texture (have you ever noticed this?), but they also provide our bodies with so many much-needed essential nutrients such as:

  • High in omega-3s
  • Loads of vitamin E and polyphenols
  • Melatonin to help you sleep
  • Highest antioxidant activity of any common nut

They also promote healthy bacteria growth in your gut, which can help with reducing inflammation and heart disease risk. Plus, they taste absolutely yummy with their buttery, nutty flavor and are a super portable, satisfying snack. Now you have even more reason to try this walnut pesto pasta recipe!

What’s Great About Basil?

Basil is one of the best herbs for a beginner because it’s easy to grow and also bursting with antioxidants such as lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. All of these are amazing for eye health and reducing oxidative stress.

The bright green, rounded leaves have a strong, attractive scent and are grown with more than 60 unique varieties. Did you know that basil is actually native to India, Asia, and Africa, but it mostly associated with Italian and Thai-inspired dishes?

Five most common varieties of basil (with the Latin name of Ocimum basilicum) are Sweet Basil (with a slight licorice-clove flavor), Greek Basil (strong scent, but mild taste), Thai Basil (used in Thai cuisine with an anise-licorice profile), Cinnamon Basil (native to Mexico and wonderful with legumes or spicy veggies), and Lettuce Basil (again having a licorice flavor, but also large, soft wrinkly leaves).

Essential Ingredients For The Walnut Pesto

Ingredients for a vegan walnut pesto.

Now that you know all the good things about walnuts and pesto, let’s dive in and see how easy it is to make!

Place all of the walnut pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. That’s it!

How To Serve Up Your Pasta

Pasta meals are usually pretty pleasant on their own, but there are ways to plump up the portions or pump up the already amazing flavor. Here are some of our favorite tips:

  • Supersize With a Salad – Whether you’re looking to add more dark leafy greens or just bulk up your bowl, adding a side salad will give your meal much more fiber and a nice crunchy texture to your smooth pesto pasta.
  • Go for Garlic Bread – Who can say no to garlic bread with pasta? Not us! Pasta never seems quite complete without a crusty chunk of soft bread and the sharp, savory smell of garlic. Don’t worry about your breath, we give you permission to eat as much as you want.
  • Spice It Up – In our opinion, there’s always room for extra heat. Shake on some cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or even a hint of hot sauce. Consider including some juicy slices of jalapeño or, if you’re hankering for something more serious, a handful of habaneros.
  • But Basil Makes Me Burp – No worries. We wouldn’t want you to make any mystery sounds while partaking of your pasta. Simply switch out the belly-busting basil for some pretty green parsley and all should be peaceful.
  • Never Enough Nutrients – If you feel like you’re not getting all that you need in terms of nutrition, think about supplementing with some sautéd vegetables. Thinly sliced red bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, or even red onions would increase your fiber, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals. You’d also be adding a bit more color, too.
A neutral dish of vegan walnut pesto pasta with some decorative basil and some cloves of garlic on the side

Simple Storage for Walnut Pesto Pasta

Any pasta leftovers can be placed in a covered container and placed in the refrigerator. They should last for up to 5 days. When re-heating, add a tablespoon of water (or, better yet, more pesto sauce) to the mix, stir well, and cook until heated through. Either 1-2 minutes in the microwave or about 5 minutes over medium/low on the stovetop would work. Sprinkle on a few more chopped walnuts, if you wish.

Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks if placed in an airtight, freezer-safe container. You can store them in glass containers or you can even use a Stasher bag for this––the mega bag size is so handy and you can reheat right in the bag itself!

Equipment You’ll Need

More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try

If you try this Walnut Pesto Pasta recipe, let us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more vegan recipe inspiration.

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Walnut Pesto Pasta

Author: Michelle Cehn and Toni Okamoto
5 from 9 votes
We're obsessed with our homemade walnut pesto pasta, which is made with walnuts instead of pine nuts. You'll not only love the flavor, but you'll also save loads of money on nuts. Just pick your favorite type of pasta and serve this dish warm or cold. Any way you go, this is a perfect weeknight meal to throw together!
Close up of a neutral dish of vegan walnut pesto pasta with some decorative basil
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Walnut Pesto

  • ½ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 2 small cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Walnut Pesto Pasta

  • 1 16-ounce package your favorite pasta
  • 1 batch Walnut Pesto
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Walnut Pesto

  • In a high-powered blender or food processor, combine all ingredients.
  • Blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Walnut Pesto Pasta

  • In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain thoroughly.
  • Combine the pesto with the cooked noodles.
  • Serve with an extra sprinkle of salt and garnish with the chopped walnuts (if using).

Notes

Enjoy the pesto immediately or store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Sodium: 583mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg
Course — Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine — Italian
Love this Recipe? Leave a Rating!And follow @Vegan on Instagram for more.

Walnut Pesto Pasta recipe Michelle CehnToni Okamoto shared from The Friendly Vegan Cookbook. Photos by Zhoro Apostolov. Article written by Gina House and edited by Amanda Meth. Please note that this article contains affiliate links to help support our work at World of Vegan! 

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Recipe Rating




9 comments
  1. 5 stars
    One of the best pestos I’ve ever made…and I’m not even vegan!

  2. Gina House says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is so fresh and satisfying! I love how it really tastes like a summer garden. Love!

  3. 5 stars
    Looks super delicious!!

  4. 5 stars
    This is my favorite pesto recipe of ALL time!!! I still can’t believe it tastes just as good with walnuts instead of pine nuts. AMAZING!

  5. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    This walnut pesto is such a game changer! Who needs pine nuts? Love it!

  6. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    I remember watching Toni make this on hallmark TV! So good!

  7. 5 stars
    This is simple to make yet tastes complex and rich. We love the beautiful color and subtle nutty taste.

  8. 5 stars
    Yum! Love how easy and delicious this dish is.

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