This 5-ingredient Sun-Dried Tomato Walnut Pesto Pasta is ready in just 15 minutes from start to finish. A family-friendly, healthy vegan dinner you'll likely be making over and over again.
The combination of the intense, sweet-tart flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the nutty texture of the crushed walnuts, takes this pesto to a whole new level. Plus, this is one of the easiest dinners to prepare and popular amongst all ages. Even my self-proclaimed 'sun-dried tomato hater' teenager kept coming back for more!
🍝 Why This Recipe Is Fabulous
- In just 15 minutes, you will be enjoying this scrumptious meal.
- Plus, the prep to make this recipe is minimal.
- Loaded with heart healthy fats from the walnuts, and lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) from the sun-dried tomatoes, this pesto is very nutritious.
- The nutritional yeast gives this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto a cheesy quality, and adds essential B vitamins that need to be supplemented in a vegan diet.
📖 How to Make This Recipe
Cook the Pasta
Start by cooking the pasta, so both the pasta and pesto will be ready at about the same time. Cook the pasta until al dente. Al dente pasta tastes better, plus it's healthier. Overcooked pasta has a higher glycemic index, meaning that it can raise your blood glucose higher than if you cooked it al dente. Al dente has less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
If you're anything like me, you'll likely forget to reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining it. Try to remember to do this. But if you happen to forget, tap water will work just fine, but it won't have the thicker texture we're going for which comes from the starch in the pasta.
Toast the Walnuts
Lightly toast the walnuts before using them to make the pesto. Toasting nuts makes them even more flavorful, and it's very easy to do. Nuts can be toasted in the oven, but I prefer using the skillet method. Simply add the walnuts to a medium skillet and cook over medium-low heat. Stir the walnuts frequently, and keep a close eye on them so they do not burn.
Process the Ingredients for the Sun-Dried Tomato Walnut Pesto
This pesto comes together in no time. Make sure to use sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil. These have the ideal texture for this pesto. Simply add the toasted walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes plus some of the oil from the jar, nutritional yeast, garlic, red chili flakes, and fresh basil to a food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms, with some crunchy walnut pieces remaining. Add more of the oil from the jar until the desired consistency. For an oil-free version, skip the oil and blend with some of the pasta cooking water instead.
Add the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto to the Cooked Pasta
Transfer the pesto to a large skillet and add some of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium heat until the pesto becomes more sauce-like. Add the desired amount of pasta and mix to combine. Continue cooking until warmed through.
Garnish with more chopped basil.
👩🏼🌾 Ingredients & Nutrition
Pasta itself is not the problem. It's how much pasta you're eating. Unlike white bread or potatoes, pasta is pretty low in terms of its glycemic impact. The issue is portion size. Eating too much of any carbohydrate food will raise blood glucose.
A single serving size of pasta is about 2 ounces dry pasta, or 1 cup of cooked pasta. It's been engrained in us that pasta should be served piled high on our plates and smothered in sauce. As much as I love pasta, it's best to steer away from those 'piled high' portions.
Pasta isn’t bad. Again, it's how much of it we eat. Pasta has some redeeming nutritional qualities. It's low in sodium and saturated fat, and some pastas are fortified with B vitamins and iron.
To keep your pasta healthy:
Bulk up your pasta with lots of veggies.
Treat it as a side. Grain foods should take up about quarter of the plate. Pasta should not be the star of the meal.
Cook it al dente. Overcooked pasta has a higher glycemic index, meaning that it can raise your blood glucose higher than if you cooked it al dente.
Swap out refined white pasta for whole wheat, lentil or bean pasta.
👩🏽🍳 Made This Recipe?
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Sun-Dried Tomato Walnut Pesto Pasta
- 16 ounces dry pasta
- ½ cup walnuts raw
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of the oil
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package until al dente. Save 1 cup of the pasta cooking water when draining. Set aside.
- Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium-low heat for about 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Make the Pesto: Transfer to toasted walnuts to a food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, 3 tablespoons oil from the tomatoes, nutritional yeast, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. Process until a smooth paste forms. Add more oil from the sun-dried tomatoes as needed until the desired consistency.
- Heat the Pesto: Transfer the pesto to a large skillet. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until warmed through, stirring frequently. Add the desired amount of pasta and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes more, or until warmed through, adding more of the reserved pasta water until the desired consistency. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Use sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil. The oil is required for making the pesto. The dried variety will change the texture of the pesto and will not blend well.
- Toasting the walnuts is optional, but it adds more flavor.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.