Walnut Pesto Pasta
This Walnut Pesto Pasta recipe is a twist on traditional pesto with walnuts and fresh basil then tossed with roasted tomatoes, wilted spinach, and arugula. It’s light, yet filling, and healthy, making it the perfect summer pasta dish!
Love easy weeknight recipes? Then try my Creamy Mushroom Carbonara and my Homemade Hamburger Helper!
What Is Walnut Pesto Pasta?
Let me start by saying that this is not your typical pesto pasta. To start with, it’s not green (although it’s still filled with an abundance of fresh pesto, arugula, and wilted spinach). Traditional pesto is typically made with fresh basil and pine-nuts. However nowadays you will see many variations of pesto. They range from adding walnuts, pecans, or even almonds. Mint and parsley can be used in place of the basil.
The trick to any good pesto is a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Better yet, good quality olive oil that is added slowly into the food processor so that it’s properly emulsified. If you add the oil all at once, it will separate and not be thick and creamy like we want.
This pasta is loaded with those fresh greens mentioned above, walnuts, and roasted tomatoes. Leave it as is or add your favorite protein like grilled chicken or fish to make it even more filling. It’s perfect as an easy weeknight dinner, for meal-prep, and for a quick summertime lunch!
The best part about this Walnut Pesto Pasta is that you only need a handful of fresh ingredients and pantry staples to deliver big flavor! You’ll need dry spaghetti (regular or whole wheat), cherry tomatoes, olive oil, arugula, spinach, walnuts, garlic, basil, parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Not a fan of some of these ingredients? Feel free to make some swaps! You could use any greens you prefer, like kale, any other nuts (like pine nuts, almonds, or pecans), and whichever tomatoes you like or have growing in the garden.
How To Make Walnut Basil Pesto
To make the Walnut Basil Pesto, start by adding walnuts and garlic to our food processor and pulse for 30 seconds. The texture will look similar to wet sand.
Next, add in the fresh basil and pulse for an additional 30 seconds. Then, add olive oil in a slow steady stream. (If you are not able to add in oil with the food processor running, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil at a time and pulse for 10 seconds.
This basil-walnut pesto is so simple to make and can be used as a dressing for vegetables, or a sauce for rice. Enjoy!
You can use this pesto in more ways than just as a pasta sauce! Marinate chicken or shrimp with it before grilling, serve as a dip, or toss with some vegetables before roasting or air frying.
How To Roast Cherry Tomatoes
To make the roasted cherry tomatoes, start by cutting tomatoes in half and placing them cut side down onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.
The tomatoes come out of the oven tender and caramelized. You will be amazed at how sweet the tomatoes become after they are roasted.
The roasted tomatoes can take on many uses, as well, in addition to this walnut pesto pasta dish. Puree them in a blender or food processor and serve as a quick pasta sauce, serve as a side dish, or use as a topping for grilled meat.
Add garlic, onion, or shallots to the sheet pan while roasting the tomatoes for more flavor!
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
- Store prepared Walnut Pesto Pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store the pesto in an airtight container topped off with olive oil for up to 2 weeks.
- While we don’t recommend freezing the assembled pasta because the pasta will fall apart in the thawing process, you can freeze the pesto to use all season long even after you’re basil is used up. For best results, freeze in an ice cube tray and top off with some olive oil. Then, pop one or more out as you need them over a period of 6 months.
- Reheat the Walnut Pesto Pasta in the microwave (covered) for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through. If reheating frozen pesto, allow to thaw in the fridge or on the counter until fully thawed. Then, prepare as desired.
More Easy Pasta Recipes To Try
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Pesto Pasta with roasted tomatoes and wilted greens
Twist on the traditional pesto with walnuts and fresh basil. Roasted tomatoes, wilted spinach, and arugula are also added to the pasta.
- 8 ounces spaghetti, uncooked
- 10.5 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 3 cups arugula and spinach mix
- salt and pepper, to taste
Walnut Basil Pesto
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 whole garlic cloves
- 2 1/2 cups basil
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Boil pasta until al-dente per box instructions.
- While pasta is cooking add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy. If needed add more oil to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until caramelized.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (you can also use the pot the pasta was cooked in). Add the arugula and spinach mix and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat until the greens have wilted.
- Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup pesto and roasted tomatoes to the skillet. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese for serving. Store leftover pesto in the refrigerator for up to a week.