Pesto Penne Pasta

1 12 oz box Gluten-Free Pasta we used Barilla gluten free penne here
3 cups baby spinach
1 1/2 – 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
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raw unsalted almonds
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Alternatively, Vegan Basil-Pumpkin Seed Pesto
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
Place basil, garlic and almonds in a food processor and run/pulse several times until finely minced
Add salt and pepper and pulse a few more times.
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.
Add cheese and process briefly until just combined.
Add rice wine vinegar and pulse a few times until just combined.
Can be made ahead and kept in seal container in the refrigerator.
Vegan Basil Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Blend all the pesto ingredients together using a food processor or blender.
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
Set aside
Prepare pasta according to package (Note: I cooked in lightly salted water)
While pasta cooks, make the pesto if you haven’t already.
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.
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.
Serve and enjoy!

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