Perfect vegan pesto pasta salad to take to lunches, picnics, BBQs, and easy dinners. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and packed full of flavour.
- 500g / 1.1 pounds fusilli (aka spiral) pasta (or penne)
- 2 bunches (around 300g / 10.6 ounces) green asparagus, bottoms cut
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach
- ⅓ cup / 40g slivered almonds
- ¾ cup / 90g sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 small lemon, juice and rind
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 4 sprigs / 25g parsley
- 2 cups / 43g fresh basil, leaves removed
- ¾ cup / 100g raw cashews
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place a large pot of water with ½ a teaspoon of salt on the stove and bring it to a boil.
- In the meantime, prepare the other components of the dish. Place the trimmed asparagus on a grill pan and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Grill them on medium heat, occasionally flipping to brown evenly on all sides. This should take about 8 minutes. When nicely coloured but still with a little crunch, take them out of the pan to cool down and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cut into smaller pieces (about 2cm / .8 inch) sticks.
- Toast your almonds in the same pan until they are golden. Keep an eye on them as they can turn very quickly.
- When the water has boiled, add the pasta and cook as per packet instructions. For this dish, you don’t want the pasta to be too al dente because the pasta hardens up a little when served cold.
- To a food processor, add the sauce ingredients and blend until they have been chopped up. Add ⅔ cup / 160ml of water and process further until you reach the desired consistency. I like mine with some chunks, but you can make it smooth. (For a smooth sauce, the best results are achieved by adding all your ingredients to a high-speed blender).
- When the pasta has cooked, drain it and fill the pot with cold water. Let it soak in cold water for 2-3 minutes, then drain again. Place the pasta in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and toss.
- Add the pesto sauce, asparagus, almonds, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice and rind, and cracked pepper to the pasta. Make sure all the dish parts have cooled down; you don’t want the spinach to wilt. Mix it well, and taste to adjust the salt.
- Eat straight away or store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
In a hurry? Add some ice cubes to the cold water when you drain the cooked pasta and let the pasta soak in it until it has completely cooled.
You can prepare all this the day before. Especially the asparagus, so no time is wasted waiting for them to cool down.
Nut-free: You can swap out the cashews in the pesto for sunflower seeds and almonds for pepitas.
Gluten-free: Swap the pasta for a gluten-free pasta of choice.
Yield: This recipe serves four people as a generous main or six as a side.
- Diet: Vegan