Back in 2014, Tina Coopman submitted this creamy arugula pesto pasta recipe for our Spring Fling recipe contest. She called it Spring Primavera, since fresh arugula pops up in early spring. But it has a peak season through summer, along with the other delicious vegetables in this fast and easy dish.
Creamy Dairy-Free Arugula Pesto Pasta to Enjoy Hot or Cold
We’ve updated Tina’s recipe and also have a few options to note.
- Sunflower Seed Subs: We also love using sunflower seeds for nut-free pesto. If you are okay with nuts, you can substitute pine nuts, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or your nut of choice. Some people also like pumpkin seed pesto.
- Nutritional Yeast Alternatives: I know some of you hesitate on using this ingredient. If your issue is purely with taste, this recipe uses a very modest amount. Some recipes over due it, and the nutritional yeast overpowers. But in this case, it’s more of a seasoning. Nevertheless, you can omit it. If you do, you can optionally increase the garlic or add about 1/2 teaspoon miso to give this pasta a little extra umami. However, it will be tasty even if you skip the additions.
- Milk Beverage Options: Tina uses unsweetened coconut milk beverage, which is my favorite for cooking, too. It’s richer than most and tends to cook well. Nevertheless, you can use your favorite milk beverage for cooking. Just make sure it doesn’t taste sweet at all (many unsweetened oat milks still taste sweet). And keep in mind, if your recipe curdles or thickens oddly, then it is due to the milk beverage you have chosen.
Special Diet Notes: Creamy Arugula Pesto Pasta
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the butter and milk alternatives that suit your dietary needs.
For gluten-free arugula pesto pasta, use your favorite gluten-free pasta. For the sauce, substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend for cooking, or 1/2 cup cashews, ground into a flour. If using cashews, you can blend the cashew flour right into the milk beverage with the butter alternatives, and heat all at once over medium heat until thick.
- ¼ cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 4 cups arugula, lightly packed, plus extra leaves for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ pound rotini or other short pasta
- 1 cup asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow pepper, cut into1-inch pieces
- 2 cups unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage, warmed (Tina uses coconut milk beverage)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery spread
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- In a food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast until finely chopped. Add the arugula and pulse until chopped. Add the lemon juice and garlic, and pulse until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running until incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta has one minute remaining, add the asparagus and yellow pepper to blanch them.
- While pasta is cooking, melt the buttery spread in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, while whisking, for 1 minute. While whisking, pour in about ⅓ of the milk beverage, and continue whisking until incorporated. Repeat twice, with the remaining ⅔ of the milk beverage. Stir in the salt and pesto.
- Toss the sauce with the hot pasta, vegetables, and cherry tomatoes. Season to taste, if needed.
- Garnish with a few arugula leaves.
The recipe is missing the step to add the 4 cups arugula. I assume you are supposed to add it to the food processor in step 1?
Yes, you are correct! Thanks for pointing that out – it has been fixed!