If you’re looking for an excuse to use up leftover salad leaves, here is your answer. Whether it’s spinach, rocket, watercress or lettuce, we put them to good use by bulking out this gorgeous pesto pasta, which we combine with sun-dried tomatoes and butter beans.
- One ‘bunch’ of fresh herbs, in this case basil, should weigh approximately 30g (1oz).
- Pretty much any type of salad leaf will work in this pesto. Something like rocket will add a more peppery flavour, while spinach will create a slightly darker and richer green colour. So the pesto will turn out slightly differently depending on what you use, but that’s partly why we love this recipe so much!
- If you have more than 60g (1.2oz) of salad leaves, you can increase the amount and bulk out the pesto even more, if you prefer. We sometimes add as much as 120g (2.4oz) of salad leaves, which creates a thicker but still really delicious pesto.
- You can make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta.
- We prefer to use nutritional yeast in the pesto because it’s a great source of protein. But vegan parmesan would also be fine. You can also substitute pine nuts for walnuts, pistachios or almonds.
- If you want to increase the amount of protein per serving, we suggest adding another tin of butter beans and another 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, which will add a stronger nutty and cheesy flavour to the pesto, but it won’t overpower the dish.
- 400g (14.1oz) pasta, we use paccheri (or use GF pasta)
- 4 tbsp pine nuts
- 60g (2.1oz) mixed salad leaves, see notes
- 1 bunch of fresh basil, large stalks removed
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- olive oil
- salt + pepper
- 100g (3.5oz) sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
- 1 x 400g (14.1oz) tin of butter beans, drained + rinsed
- vegan parmesan, for topping (optional)
- First cook the pasta until al dente in salted boiling water.
- Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a large pan on a medium heat until they begin to brown, then add them to a food processor with the mixed salad leaves, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Process until smooth, then set aside.
- Wipe clean the pan you used earlier to toast the pine nuts, then return the pan to a medium heat. Add a small splash of olive oil, then add the sun-dried tomatoes and butter beans. Cook for a couple of minutes, then reduce the heat.
- When the pasta is ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta straight into the pan, adding a small amount of the pasta water as you go to loosen the pesto. Give everything a good stir, then plate up. We love to top with extra olive oil and grated vegan parmesan. The pasta will keep well for up to 3 days if stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.