This easy mid-week dinner is made with fresh pesto and lots of garlic infused mushrooms, tossed through your favourite pasta! It's a quick but delicious meal that can be whizzed up in under half an hour. Best of all? It tastes restaurant quality, but without the price tag.
Everyone needs a pasta recipe that can be made up in pretty much the time it takes to boil the water and pasta.This combination of garlic mushrooms and fresh pesto is utterly addictive, but also super versatile too, as it can be adapted to what you have available.
If you've made a fresh batch of pesto, such as my vegan basil pesto, this recipe is extra delicious (I've included basic instructions below, but click the link above for extra tips and tricks) but don't worry if you haven't, you can use a good shop bought vegan pesto instead. It's also just as delicious made with other pestos, such as this Parsley Pesto with Pistachios.
- Pasta of choice: Spaghetti, linguini, penne or if it's what you prefer, a gluten free pasta such as rice or chickpea pasta.
- Fresh Chestnut mushrooms (these are also called cremini mushrooms). Or choose baby bella, oyster or any variety of wild mushrooms.
- Lots of fresh garlic: This is definitely one of those recipes where more is more. I like to slice my garlic rather than crush for this recipe as it caramelises along with the mushrooms better.
- Chilli Flakes: to taste. A few chilli flakes really makes this recipe sing.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: to sautee the mushrooms
- Pine Nuts to garnish: Optional, but I like the texture and crunch they bring.
- Flakey Sea Salt: to bring out the mushroom flavour.
For the basil pesto
If you choose to make your own pesto for this recipe, you will need the following ingredients. Otherwise choose your favourite store bought pesto.
- Fresh Basil: freshly picked and aromatic with a sweetly peppery flavour.
- Pine Nuts: European Pine nuts are traditional to use in pesto, however you could use walnuts, cashews or pistachios.
- Crushed Garlic: Usually a single clove of fresh garlic is enough.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Good quality extra virgin olive oil is essential for the flavour and finish of the pesto.
- Nutritional Yeast: Traditionally pesto uses non-vegatarian hard cheeses, including Pecorino Sardo or Parmeggiano Reggiano. We substitute this for nutritional yeast which has a nutty, cheesy flavour that works perfectly to make this pesto both dairy free and vegan.
- Sea Salt: flakey sea salt is a must, as it adds overall flavour and mouth feel.
- Get your pasta pot ready with plenty of boiling water in it.
- Slice the garlic and mushrooms.
- Toast the pine nuts if using. (or if making the pesto from scratch)
4. Slice the mushrooms, then add dry to a pan. They will start to sizzle and roast. Leave for 5 minutes until they release their juices and start to cook down.
5. Once the mushrooms have caramelised and started to shrink down, add the olive oil, chilli and garlic and leave to sizzle.
6. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the instructions.
7. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve half a cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Then toss in 3 tablespoons (or more if desired) of pesto with the pasta, then mix in the cooking water. This is what helps the pesto become a sauce.
8. Toss in the mushrooms and roasted pine nuts with the pasta and serve.
Hint: If you do choose to toast pine nuts to make pesto or to use in the pasta, be sure to watch them carefully as they go from not cooked to burnt in a flash!
🌶Substitutions and Variations
The nice thing about this mushroom and pesto pasta recipe is how easy it is to customise.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta - if you're craving a creamy pasta, add in 3 tablespoons or more of your favourite plant based cream (I like oat cream) or creme fraiche at the same time you add in the pesto.
- Gluten Free - the sauce for this recipe is naturally gluten free, so choose your favourite gluten free pasta instead of regular pasta.
- Spicy - I add some chilli flakes to the mushrooms, but go ahead and add more, or even add chilli sauce if you like spice!
- Other pestos: This recipe can be used with any variety of pesto that you like. I love to use a sundried tomato pesto, or in season, wild garlic pesto.
I also love to use an iron skillet to cook my mushrooms in. The way it heats up the mushrooms and cooks them through is just perfect. Don't worry if you don't have one though, a standard frying pan will also work well.
Once made up, the pasta will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. You can reheat it, or eat it cold, standing up at the kitchen counter at midnight (it's good like that, don't judge me!).
The pesto on it's own will keep in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks if you cover it with olive oil. You can also freeze the pesto in an icecube tray, then pop out the cubes and put into a container, ready to use another day. (Which makes prep for another one of these pasta dinners a total breeze!)
Cooking the mushrooms without oil to start with, gives them a delicious roasted flavour that really enhances the overall impact of this dish.
There is no need to heat the pesto before putting it on pasta. Simply stir the pesto through hot pasta with a little of the pasta cooking water to creatre a delicious sauce.
Mushrooms are delicious with pesto pasta. Simply fry them with garlic for a delicious, easy dinner.
Love Pasta? Why not try out some of my other delicious pasta recipes.
Salads and more..
These are my favorite dishes to serve with this vegan pesto and mushroom pasta:
Mushroom Pesto Pasta
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
To make the pesto from scratch
For the pasta
- 180 g (6 ⅓ oz) pasta (90g per person or more if you are hungry!)
- 1 teaspoon salt for boiling pasta (*)
- 250 g (½ lb) mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon flakey sea salt
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoon pesto (either freshly made or shop bought)
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
To make the pesto from scratch (Optional)
- Wash the basil then dry it really well.55 g Fresh basil
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, be careful that they don't burn. Let them cool.75 g pine nuts
- Put the pine nuts and garlic into the food processor and blitz to a fine rubble.1 clove garlic, 75 g pine nuts
- Add in all the other ingredients and blitz.55 g Fresh basil, 22 g nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon Maldon or Kosher Salt, 45 ml Olive oil
- Stop every now and then and scrape down the sides of the processer
- Blitz until smooth- taste for salt. Add more olive oil as needed.
- Transfer to a glass jar & add a bit of olive oil over the top
- Keep in the fridge and use in everything!
To make the Mushroom Pesto Pasta
- Put plenty of water on to boil for the pasta
- Gently toast your pine nuts (if using) in a dry, no oil skillet and set aside.2 tablespoon pine nuts
- Chop the mushrooms into large slices and place in the same dry (no oil) skillet or frying pan to cook.250 g mushrooms
- Chop the garlic and have your pesto ready to go (you can make your own pesto as per above, or use shop bought)4 cloves garlic
- Press the mushrooms down with the back of a wooden spoon/spatula so they really get into good contact with the heat. This releases their juices and gets them nice and brown.
- By now your pasta water should be boiled, so add your pasta to the water, along with the pasta water salt and boil as per the pasta instructions.180 g pasta, 1 teaspoon salt for boiling pasta
- The mushrooms will be getting nice and crispy now, so add the chilli flakes (optional), olive oil and garlic and cook until the garlic softened.1 teaspoon chili flakes, 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Once your pasta is cooked through, scoop out a cup of water and put aside. Drain the pasta and put back into the pasta pot.
- Add the pesto and a little of the pasta cooking water and mix well. Keep adding pesto and a drizzle at a time of pasta water until you have a nicely mixed in pesto.3 tablespoon pesto
- Add the mushrooms, a sprinkle of flakey sea salt and the toasted pine nuts and mix. You can reserve a few mushrooms and pine nuts to sprinkle on top to serve.1 teaspoon flakey sea salt