Pesto Penne with Spinach & Blistered Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A super quick and easy gluten-free and vegetarian pasta dish that tastes like summer! Homemade Basil Pesto, Baby Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes with Gluten-free Pasta. 20 minutes beginning to end and delicious! Option for Vegan Nut-Free Basil Pesto below as well.
Recipe type: Dinner, Veggies
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan optional
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • 1 12 oz box Gluten-Free Pasta (we used Barilla gluten free penne here)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1½ - 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup Basil Pesto (store bought or homemade)
Basil Pesto (for a vegan pesto, see below)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw unsalted almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Alternatively, Vegan Basil-Pumpkin Seed Pesto (recipe from Urban Kitchen Apothecary)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ⅓ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt + black pepper
Basil Pesto
  1. Place basil, garlic and almonds in a food processor and run/pulse several times until finely minced
  2. Add salt and pepper and pulse a few more times.
  3. With the food processor running, stream olive oil into the top of the food processor. Scrape down the sides as needed and run food processor until well combined and mixture is smooth.
  4. Add cheese and process briefly until just combined.
  5. Add rice wine vinegar and pulse a few times until just combined.
  6. Can be made ahead and kept in seal container in the refrigerator.
Vegan Basil Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  1. Blend all the pesto ingredients together using a food processor or blender.
  2. Note: I didn't have any trouble blending it in a blender but if too thick or difficult to blend add an additional 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  3. Set aside
  1. Prepare pasta according to package (Note: I cooked in lightly salted water)
  2. While pasta cooks, make the pesto if you haven't already.
  3. While the pasta cooks, saute the tomatoes: in a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering (not burning). Add tomatoes, and stirring occasionally, cook 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes start to blister.
  4. After draining pasta into colander, add cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes, add basil pesto and spinach and over medium heat toss until spinach wilts, just a minute or two.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
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