Basil Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms & Peas

Vegan basil pesto pasta with mushrooms and peas is a wonderful way to remind yourself of summer. Use that basil pesto you made last autumn. If you don’t have any (vegan) basil pesto in the freezer, you can make a quick batch of basil, spinach, arugula, or another green leafy plant you love. I try to make vegan basil pesto with the last of my basil from summer, before the first frost decimates the crop. It’s the best way to bring back summer in the chilly days of early spring, when you’re over root vegetables and dying for fresh, bright vegetables like ramps, asparagus, spring onions, baby lettuces, tender peas, and fava beans. This pasta uses peas and mushrooms, cremini, white, or baby bella work best and are easily available.

Basil Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms & Peas

The sum of the parts in this recipe are bigger than any one part. What makes this quick weeknight recipe so flavorful are all the components. It's vegan, but add wild-caught shrimp or fish or organic, pasture-raised chicken and you have an even more substantial dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Tania Van Pelt

Ingredients

Pesto

  • 2 cups packed fresh organic basil (stems and leaves), spinach or arugula
  • cup extra virgin olive oil more as needed
  • ½ cup raw pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta

  • 1 pound campanelle or rotini pasta
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces of baby bella or cremini mushrooms quartered
  • 1 cup hulled English peas or defrosted frozen peas
  • ½ cup pesto plus more as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the pesto

  1. In a blender or food processor, add the fresh basil or spinach (or green plant of choice) roughly chopped, garlic and nuts, and half the olive oil.
  2. Blend and then slowly drizzle the rest of the oil in until you get a smooth consistency, add the salt, blend again.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

For the pasta

  1. Bring a large amount of water to a rapid boil, add a big pinch of salt, and cook the pasta to al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve about a half cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the hulled peas or defrosted frozen peas and toss until warmed through, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pasta to the skillet and pour the pesto on top. Toss to combine everything. If you'd like it a bit creamier, add a splash of the pasta water. Stir and add more pasta water if desired. Add more pesto if you want stronger pesto flavor.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. And serve with a green salad (baby gem lettuce or butter lettuce, sliced radishes, and a mustard vinaigrette - dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil).