I had a bumper basil crop this year and I managed to stow away a few jars of vegan basil pesto in the freezer before my beautiful plants wilted in the cooling weather. It's not even winter yet, and I have already run out of all that gorgeous green stuff because we love it so much and it's so easy to mix up some pasta with pesto for a hurried weeknight dinner. So now, when I get cravings for a quick and easy pesto, I go to this, my favorite winter pasta sauce: vegan olive pesto.
The great thing about this olive pesto is that it is made entirely with pantry stuff. No need for fresh, green herbs here, although if you had some, you could throw in a handful of basil. I used dried basil out of a jar, kalamata olives out of a jar, capers out of a jar, cashew nuts, and the usual pesto suspects like garlic and red pepper flakes. It's easy and it's delicious and I bet you have most of this stuff in your kitchen already.
Toast the cashew nuts slightly before you add them to the pesto. It's tempting to skip this step when you're rushed, but the toasting really gives the cashews -- and therefore your pesto -- a deep, nutty flavor. I sometimes stir in some miso into my pesto at the very end for an added flavor wallop, but the capers are salty enough to flavor the pesto, so I leave it out. If your taste runs to saltier food, add a tablespoon of miso: your tummy and tastebuds will thank you for it.
I mixed some green beans and potatoes into this pasta, partly for the nutrition but also because it makes this already delicious pasta even more tasty and kid-friendly. Jay has proclaimed it one of his two favorite pastas.
Hope everyone's enjoying the mellow warmth of the holiday season. It really is a magical time, isn't it?
More pesto pastas from the archives:
- Pasta with Vegan Turnip Pesto
- Fennel Fronds Pesto
- Pasta with Fennel Pesto
- Vegan Pasta with Spinach Pesto
- Pasta with Edamame Pesto
- Vegan Dill and Artichoke Pesto
Linguine with Vegan Olive Pesto recipe:
Vegan Linguine with Olive Pesto
- 1 12- oz linguine (try and use whole wheat linguine for a healthier meal)
- 3 potatoes (red or yellow, boiled and diced)
- 2 cups green beans steamed until just tender (I put them in a microwave-safe bowl, add a tablespoon of water, cover with a microwave-safe lid, and nuke them at full power for five minutes. Test timing in your own microwave because, in my experience, different brands and makes work differently.
For olive pesto
- ½ cup olives kalamata or green olives will both work
- ¼ cup capers
- ⅓ cup raw cashew nuts
- 1 large cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon basil (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Ground black pepper and salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine per package directions.
- While linguine is cooking, make the pesto.
- Roast the cashews in a small skillet, stirring frequently, over low heat for 3-4 minutes or until they start to turn lightly golden.
- Place the cashews, olives and capers (make sure you drained both of their briny liquid before measuring), basil, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper to taste, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and process into a coarse paste.
- Place the olive pesto in a large bowl with ½ cup of the water the pasta was cooked in. Mix well.
- Add the steamed green beans, boiled potatoes, and the cooked linguine and stir together vigorously until everything is well mixed.
- Add more salt and ground black pepper if needed.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. I like a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on my pasta before I eat.
Olive pesto looks great. But all of your pesto recipes say, for instance, 6 servings. What is a serving? 1/4 cup? Please advise.
Thanks for your yummy recipes!
Just revisited this---can't believe it's been a year since I first made it and just wanted to say how much we enjoyed it again! Made with little blue potatoes since I had some to use up (plus, I love those little suckers and always feel so healthy getting my blue/purple pigment in---not that I don't eat a lot of blackberries and blueberries) as well as the green beans. This time no oil at all! I am willing to use oil as needed, but felt the olives were already going to provide the oiliness and it worked! Just added a little water to it. Yum!
I loved this...and I'm not even that much of an olive lover. But kalamata olives gave this fantastic umami. My tweaks were halving the oil to 2 T and roasting the potatoes and green beans. Easy and delicious. Made me wonder (yet again!) why restaurants have so much difficulty accommodating vegans---when they could be offering stuff like this (Italian and Greek restaurants, I'm looking at you!). Thanks Vaishali for this and all the other great recipes of 2016. I saw that you will be posting even more this year---loved reading that. Please note that your efforts are appreciated.
Hi Ellen, that's so great to hear-- thank you, and a happy new year to you! I love this pesto too. I like the idea of roasting potatoes, and I am going to try it your way the next time I make this recipe.
This was delicious! I made it without the capers since I didn't have any. The olives added just the right amount of tartness to the pesto. Wonderful dish!
Wow never knew you could add potatoes to a pasta dish 🙂 !1
Yes isn't it amazing? There's a Ligurian dish called Pasta with Potatoes and Green Beans -- it's usually made with basil pesto and is really wonderful. We love it at our home. This is just a variation of that recipe, and the potatoes are really yummy here.
Hi, this sounds just amazing. I've made a version of this but without the capers. I can imagine they'll be delicious here. Will try soon!
Hi Lolly, the capers are really great in here. Hope you try! 🙂