Only 3 ingredients are needed for this unbelievably simple One Pot Pesto Pasta. The recipe as written is for a single serving, but it doubles and triples easily. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal or quick meal prep. Can’t tell you how many times I ate this during school terms when I had no time to cook. The best part is, you can use whatever pesto you want, so it never gets boring!
Perfect for Weeknight Dinners
I first cooked up this dish in mid-June of this year during the height of assignment and midterm stress. I was very grateful to find something tasty could be made for so little time and effort. Here’s the entry from my food diary on this meal:
boil some pasta in a non-stick, throw in some pesto, add a touch more salt, boom you have cuisine
Yep, it’s that simple. Obvs you don’t have to use a non-stick skillet, but it’s what I chose that day and makes cleanup quicker. Plus, boiling pasta in a shallow pan like a skillet distributes the pasta across a wider area and allows you to use less water. I didn’t even have to drain mine. I waited until there was only a little liquid left, then turned off the heat and added the pesto directly to the pan. (The leftover pasta water mixes with the pesto to help the sauce cling to the rotini.) Voila, easy weeknight one-pot meal. I pretty much lived on Doufunao, this recipe, and Vegan Mac and Cheese during the semester.
What You’ll Need
This one-pot pasta recipe uses three basic pantry ingredients: dried pasta, water, and pesto. The variety of pasta can be anything: I’ve used everything from angel hair to rigatoni to bowtie pasta. The only varieties I would not recommend are very small pasta shapes, like orzo or tempestina.
I like to add some fresh veggies too—broccoli and spinach are great choices. I prep the veggies while bringing the pasta water to a boil.
Pesto already has a good amount of plant nutrients, usually in the form of herbs or another flavourful ingredient like sun-dried tomatoes, but if you add some veggies with the pesto, like I do with spinach in this recipe, you’re set for a pretty healthy meal!
You are more than welcome to use a storebought pesto for this recipe. However, vegans should note that most storebought brands contain dairy so make sure to check the ingredients before buying. Two vegan varieties that I like are Sunflower Kitchen Basil Pesto and Martelli’s Arugula Pesto.
I love making pesto at home, personally, because there’s endless variation, so the same pesto pasta never gets boring. Here’s a couple of recipes I love that are easy to whip up:
More Healthy Green Recipes
And check out this collection of Easy One Pot Vegan Meals for more quick recipes.
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One Pot Vegan Pesto Pasta
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- 3 oz dried pasta
- 8 oz water see Note 1
- 1 cup baby spinach or broccoli florets *optional
- ¼ cup pesto
- Add pasta and water to a pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
- As soon as water begins to boil, turn heat down to low to prevent the water from boiling over. Set a stopwatch. Give the pot a stir every other minute to prevent pasta from sticking to the bottom, but otherwise keep the lid on.
- At the 5-minute mark, mix in your spinach or broccoli if using.
- Simmer for a further 5–10 minutes (depending on how done you like your pasta), then turn off the heat. Stir in the pesto and add salt to taste (see Note 2).
- For one or two servings of pasta, use the ratio in the recipe above. If cooking more servings, reduce the water to be twice the amount of dried pasta by weight. For example, if you want to triple this recipe to make three servings of pasta, use 9oz dried pasta (255g) and 18oz water (510g).
- I add 1/8 tsp of salt. You may need to add more or less depending on which pesto you are using. Keep in mind we are not draining the water from this pasta so you can’t salt the pasta water as generously as you usually would.