This creamy vegetarian pesto pasta is the perfect quick meal! Whip up the pesto while the pasta and peas cook, and the whole dish comes together in 30 minutes. I included tips for finding parmesan cheese with vegetarian rennet and what other veggies go well with pesto.
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Snow flurries fall outside as I write this post, but memories of 60 plus degree weather over the weekend are still fresh in my mind! It won’t be long now until spring is in full force, and I can’t wait.
I’ve already started switching up my weekly menus to incorporate spring foods. So of course, my new blog recipes are also starting to reflect the flavors of the season. Enter: vegetarian pesto pasta with peas!
This easy recipe is green, lean, and…[great for those who are] keen on adding more plants to their diet. Ok, that was a stretch, but you gotta do what you gotta do to make a good rhyme work.
Make this pasta dish for a quick dinner or prep it for lunch instead. It’s ready in about a half hour, tastes good warm or cold, and can be customized to fit your needs and preferences. Let’s get started!
How to Make Vegetarian Pesto Pasta
Looking for the recipe card? Scroll down to the bottom of the post or click the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the post. Here’s a preview of the ridiculously easy steps!
- Cook pasta and peas in a pot of salted water.
- In the meantime, blend together the pesto ingredients until you get a smooth and creamy pesto!
- Drain the pasta and peas, return to the pot, and smother with the pesto. Enjoy!
Expert Tips and FAQ
- Time-saving tips: Make the pesto in advance and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make your pasta. It can usually last for up to a week.
- Add a protein: If you want to make a vegetarian pesto pasta with more protein, consider adding white beans, crispy tofu, or edamame. You can also substitute a legume-based pasta, like chickpea pasta or lentil pasta.
- Finding vegetarian parmesan cheese: Parmesan cheese is a key ingredient in homemade pesto, but it’s usually not vegetarian because it is made with animal rennet. If you need a parmesan cheese that’s strictly vegetarian, look for one made with vegetarian rennet and that’s labeled as vegetarian. Whole Foods 365 shredded parmesan cheese is vegetarian.
- Pesto variations: Feel free to switch up the pesto you use. This recipe would taste delish with my Mint Basil Pesto, Ramp Pesto with Toasted Cashews, or Radish Top Pesto.
- Make vegan or gluten-free: You can use a vegan pesto that omits the parmesan cheese or use a plant-based cheese option if desired. To make the recipe gluten-free, use a pasta made with gluten-free flour or a legume-based pasta.
- Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Vegetarian pesto pasta tastes good warm or cold. If you want to reheat it, warm in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
What pastas go well with pesto?
For a vegetarian pesto pasta, you want to use a pasta shape that will soak up the sauce well. The best shapes of pasta to use with pesto include fusilli, rotini, rigatoni, penne, and spaghetti.
What veggies go well with pesto?
Pesto tastes delicious with just about any vegetable but pairs especially well with soft, quick-cooking ones. I use peas in this recipe, but you could substitute or add cherry tomatoes, zucchini or yellow summer squash, asparagus, bell peppers, or broccoli.
More Healthy Pasta Recipes
If you love this vegetarian pesto pasta with peas, I’ve got some other delicious recipes for you to try! Check out the Asparagus Pasta Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing, Balsamic Caramelized Shallot Pasta, and Garlic Lemon Creamy Kale Pasta.
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Vegetarian Pesto Pasta with Peas
- Food processor or blender
- large pot
- 6 ounces dry fusilli - about 2 servings
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- ½ lemon - juiced; about 2 tablespoons
- 1 garlic clove - smashed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil - more as needed
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta. A few minutes later, add the frozen peas to the pot. Cook until the pasta is al dente and the peas are cooked. I usually cook the pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than what's recommended on the package. Drain and return to the pot.
- While the pasta and peas cook, make the pesto. Combine the basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse or blend, slowly pouring the olive oil into the mixture while it's blending. Stop to scrape down the sides, add more olive oil if needed, and continue blending until smooth.
- Pour the pesto over the cooked pasta and peas. Mix until coated, serve, and enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post).
- If you need the recipe to be strictly vegetarian, look for a shredded parmesan cheese that’s labeled as vegetarian. Whole Foods 365 shredded parmesan is vegetarian.
- Feel free to sub other pasta variations, like rotini, penne, or spaghetti, gluten-free or legume-based pasta.
- To add more protein, stir in white beans, crispy tofu, or edamame (and/or use a legume-based pasta like chickpea pasta). If you don’t need the recipe to be vegetarian, baked chicken is a good addition.
Happy (almost) spring! – Lizzie
This is one of our favorite recipes! Love the peas with the pesto.
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN
Yay!! I love this one too! Thanks for leaving a review!