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Pesto Mushroom Pasta

$9.52 Recipe/$2.38 Serving

Pesto mushroom pasta is a simple and easy 20 minute meal that is perfect for weeknight dinners. Packed with flavor, this healthy mushroom pesto pasta recipe can be made with homemade or store-bought pesto and has minimal ingredients.

Cast iron skillet filled with pesto mushroom pasta.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Simple quick recipe – this pesto mushroom pasta is so easy to make. Cook the onions and mushrooms while the pasta is boiling. Combine everything in a pot and pour the pesto over. So quick and easy, this is perfect for busy weeknight meals or even for a meal prep lunch since leftovers are great too!
  • Easy to find ingredients – you can find all the ingredients you need for mushroom pesto pasta at the local grocery store! I like to buy pesto from Trader Joe’s but you can find it in most grocery stores or make it yourself with minimal ingredients and a food processor. You can easily make this recipe vegan, plant based, gluten free and dairy free based on the pesto you use.
  • Budget friendly if you have a garden! Make this easy pesto mushroom pasta all summer long when the garden is overflowing with fresh basil! This recipe is light and flavorful and would be the perfect summer meal!
Ingredients to make pesto mushroom pasta.
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Ingredients

  • Gluten free pasta – for any of my meatless meals, I prefer to use a lentil or chickpea based pasta to add more fiber and protein. This creates a high filling meal without the need for added protein and makes a great meatless Monday meal. I love the red lentil pasta from Trader Joe’s, Banza pasta (made from chickpeas) or Tolerant Brand pasta (I get mine on Thrive Market or at Sprouts for the best price).
  • Onion – sauteed onions pair well with mushrooms and add flavor to the overall dish. If you don’t have yellow or white onions, you can simply omit the onion, as I don’t think red onion or green onions would be as good in this recipe as they would compete with the pesto flavor.
  • Mushrooms – mushrooms add that meaty quality and taste to the recipe while keeping it plant based. I love using cremini mushrooms (the baby portobello mushrooms) in this recipe but when I’m in a pinch I also use white mushrooms. The cremini have slightly more flavor and are what I would recommend if you are out shopping for this recipe. You could also use shitaki or oyster mushrooms as well, as they are full of flavor but can be harder to find.
  • Pesto – I typically make my own pesto in the summer and buy pesto in the colder months. You can make your own pesto year-round though! If you are using a store-bought pesto, be sure to check the ingredients if you are dairy free, as many of the store-bought recipes use cheese or milk. If you have a nut allergy, you will likely have to make your own, as many use pinenuts to make the pesto creamy. Check out my favorite pesto recipes below for ideas!

How to make pesto mushroom pasta

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, chop the onions, thinly slice the mushrooms and slice the tomatoes. If you need to clean the mushrooms before slicing, use a damp kitchen towel or paper towel to remove the soil, don’t run them under water as they can get spongy.

Chopped onions, chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms on a cutting board.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, spray it with olive oil or avocado oil spray and add the onions, saute for 3-4 minutes until softened.

Steps on how to saute onions from raw to golden brown.

While onions are cooking, the water for the pasta should be up to a boil. Add the pasta and stir well. Set a timer so the pasta will be al dente (check the box for time). Stir occasionally.

After the onions are soft, add the sliced mushrooms and saute, cooking 5-7 minutes until mushrooms have released all their liquid and are golden brown. Once done, turn off the stove.

Cast iron skillet filled with cooked onions and sliced mushrooms, before and after cooking.

Before you drain the pasta, reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid (just in case you need it). The cooking liquid is starchy and can help to thin out your pesto if needed (most brands are different and will have a different consistency and you will have your own personal preference to how saucy you like your pasta).

Drain the pasta and add it directly to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Pour the pesto and sliced tomatoes over top and stir well. If needed, add 2-4 tablespoons of the starchy cooking liquid and stir well until the sauce. Repeat this until it reaches your desired consistency.

Taste the pesto mushroom pasta for salt and seasoning. If needed, add a sprinkle of salt or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the pasta (every pesto recipe is going to create a slightly different flavor and may need seasoning or lemon juice).

Skillet with pesto, pasta and sliced tomatoes.

Top tips

  • When working with mushrooms, it’s best to wipe them down with a damp cloth or paper towel instead of running the mushrooms under water. This way you are not adding any additional water to the mushrooms that would have to cook out.
  • Reserve some pasta cooking water. I typically use a glass measuring cup to do this right before draining. I make it a habit before draining the liquid so that I always have it on hand if needed to adjust the consistency of a sauce. The startchy cooking liquid can help the sauce stick to the pasta better and can help to thin out sauces (especially pesto) to help it go further over the pasta.
  • For this recipe, I use 8 oz. of dry pasta and 1 cup of pesto. The pesto I use is quite watery and is made with both pesto and spinach so the flavor is not as intense compared to jarred pesto. You may want to start with ½ cup of pesto and some starchy cooking liquid if you are using a jarred pesto. If you are making your own from scratch you will likely need closer to that 1 cup range, but it depends on the recipe you are using.
  • If you have extra pesto on hand, you can use it in another recipe or freeze it for up to 2 months. I recommend freezing it in 2 tablespoon portions so you can defrost it and use it over tomato salads or to add flavor to a soup or tomato sauce.
  • Add your favorite protein to make this even more filling. Shrimp, shredded chicken, italian skillet chicken, italian chicken sausage or chickpeas would all be great additions.
  • Use zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or hearts of palm pasta to make this a low carb meal.

Other additions

Mushroom pesto pasta on a white plate with a fork on the plate.

Common questions

How to make this mushroom pesto pasta creamier?

There are many different ways to make the pesto pasta even creamier, here are some very easy additions you can make to this pasta:

  • Canned white beans – rinse and drain the beans. Blend them with ½-1 cup of water and add the puree into the pesto mixture.
  • Greek yogurt – add this at the end  after the pesto pasta is off the heat. Be sure to use a plain Greek style yogurt
  • Cashew cream – this thick cream sauce is made by blending soaked cashews (about ½ cup) with water (about 1/3 cup) until thick and creamy. Simply stir the cashew cream in with the pesto.
  • Steamed cauliflower or potatoes – you can blend steamed cauliflower or 1 medium starchy potato, peeled and cooked with about ¼ cup of water and the pesto in a high speed blender.
  • Ricotta or cream cheese – Kite Hill makes a vegan ricotta and cream cheese that you can stir directly into the pasta after cooking. If you are not vegan or dairy free, you can use regular ricotta or cream cheese as well. Be sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid if you are adding cream cheese to help create that creamy sauce.

What are the best mushrooms to use?

  • Cremini (baby portobello)
  • Portobello (cut into small chunks)
  • White button mushrooms (these have the least flavor but are very easy to find)
  • Oyster mushrooms or shitake mushrooms (more difficult to find in most grocery stores and are usually more expensive but very yummy).

How to make homemade pesto

Pesto is typically made in the food processor using a combination of fresh basil, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic or garlic powder, and a nut or seed (usually pine nuts but cashews, hemp hearts and almonds work well too). You can add fresh spinach, arugula or baby kale to the pesto as well to add more vegetables easily.

Here are some of my favorite pesto recipes

Mushroom pesto pasta in a cast iron skillet with white napkin next to the skillet.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge – store leftover pesto mushroom pasta in the fridge for up to 4 days. It reheats well in the microwave (1:30-2 minutes). You can also reheat on the stove over low heat with 2-3 tablespoons of water added. Be sure to cover the pot so that it reheats evenly without loosing too much moisture.
  • Freezer – If you want to freeze leftovers, I would omit the cherry tomatoes, as they will have a different texture when defrosted. Freeze leftover pesto mushroom pasta in individual servings using Soupercubes. Once frozen solid, transfer to a freezer safe bag and be sure to add a label with the name, date and use by date. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.

Substitutions

  • Gluten free pasta – you can also make this with cooked rice or quinoa or make it low carb using zucchini pasta, spaghetti squash, hearts of palm pasta or cauliflower rice.
  • Onions – onions are optional and if you don’t have them on hand, simply omit them from the recipe.
  • Mushrooms – use whatever mushrooms you have on hand. If you don’t have mushrooms, you can use zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm in place of the mushrooms.
  • Pesto – you can use homemade pesto or storebought pesto. If you don’t have pesto on hand, try making roasted red pepper pasta or creamy lemon tahini pasta instead!

If you love this recipe, you should try

Tuna Pesto Pasta

Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Pesto Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

Pesto Crusted Salmon

Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

Kale Mushroom Pasta

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Skillet with pesto mushroom mpasta.

Pesto Mushroom Pasta

$9.52 Recipe/$2.38 Serving
Pesto mushroom pasta is perfect for weeknight meals and ready in just 20 minutes! This healthy pasta recipe is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and made with limited ingredients.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: mushroom pesto pasta, pesto mushroom pasta
Prep Time: 3 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 18 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dry chickpea or lentil pasta - $2.99
  • 1 medium onion, chopped - $0.33
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped - $0.12
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced - $1.29
  • 1 cup pesto - $3.79
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced - $1.00

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • While the water is coming up to a boil, chop the onion, finely chop garlic, slice mushrooms and slice the cherry tomatoes.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, spray with avocado oil spray or olive oil spray. Add the chopped onions, cook 3-4 minutes.
  • After 3-4 minutes, add the finely chopped garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  • When the water comes up to a boil, add the pasta and a pinch of salt. Stir well and set a timer to make the pasta al dente.
  • When onions and garlic are cooked, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • After the pasta is cooked and the mushrooms are done, add the pasta to the skillet with the mushrooms and onions along with the pesto and sliced tomatoes. Stir well and serve hot.

Notes

Top tips
  • When working with mushrooms, it’s best to wipe them down with a damp cloth or paper towel instead of running the mushrooms under water. This way you are not adding any additional water to the mushrooms that would have to cook out.
  • Reserve some pasta cooking water. I typically use a glass measuring cup to do this right before draining. I make it a habit before draining the liquid so that I always have it on hand if needed to adjust the consistency of a sauce. The starchy cooking liquid can help the sauce stick to the pasta better and can help to thin out sauces (especially pesto) to help it go further over the pasta.
  • For this recipe, I use 8 oz. of dry pasta and 1 cup of pesto. The pesto I use is quite watery and is made with both pesto and spinach so the flavor is not as intense compared to jarred pesto. You may want to start with ½ cup of pesto and some starchy cooking liquid if you are using a jarred pesto. If you are making your own from scratch you will likely need closer to that 1 cup range, but it depends on the recipe you are using.
  • If you have extra pesto on hand, you can use it in another recipe or freeze it for up to 2 months. I recommend freezing it in 2 tablespoon portions so you can defrost it and use it over tomato salads or to add flavor to a soup or tomato sauce.
  • Add your favorite protein to make this even more filling. Shrimp, shredded chicken, italian skillet chicken, italian chicken sausage or chickpeas would all be great additions.
  • Use zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or hearts of palm pasta to make this a low carb meal.
Other additions
  • Veggies: Spinach or baby kale, roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini
  • Spice: Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Protein: Shrimp, shredded chicken, italian skillet chicken, italian chicken sausage, chickpeas, pesto salmon, balsamic tofu, chickpeas or white beans.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge – store leftover pesto mushroom pasta in the fridge for up to 4 days. It reheats well in the microwave (1:30-2 minutes). You can also reheat on the stove over low heat with 2-3 tablespoons of water added. Be sure to cover the pot so that it reheats evenly without loosing too much moisture.
  • Freezer – If you want to freeze leftovers, I would omit the cherry tomatoes, as they will have a different texture when defrosted. Freeze leftover pesto mushroom pasta in individual servings using Soupercubes. Once frozen solid, transfer to a freezer safe bag and be sure to add a label with the name, date and use by date. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
449
Fat
 
26
g
Carbohydrates
 
41
g
Fiber
 
10
g
Sugar
 
9
g
Protein
 
18
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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