This creamy roasted red pepper pasta with walnuts is bursting with flavour. The homemade walnut pesto is out of this world and makes this vegetarian pasta salad a family favourite.
If you love the taste of roasted red peppers but are not sure how to incorporate them more into your cooking, this roasted red pepper pesto pasta should be right up your alley. Vegetarian pasta recipes such as this one are perfect for the summer, but I have to admit I enjoy this in all seasons.
This roasted red pepper pasta recipe works well with roasted red peppers from a jar or with fresh red peppers that you roast yourself on the grill or in the oven. Either way, it's delicious, and the homemade walnut pesto complements the flavour of the peppers beautifully. This walnut pasta salad is the ideal combination of sweet and savory, and if you top it off with rocket salad (arugula), your taste buds will thank you.
How do you make this vegetarian pasta pesto?
The walnut pesto is almost all the work you have to do for this roasted red pepper pasta. The good news is that it couldn't be simpler to make. You will need a food processor to get it right, but this is pretty much a dump-and-start recipe.
Start by toasting the walnuts in a dry pan, just for a couple of minutes until they change colour but are not burnt. Do the same with the pine nuts. Then add half of the walnuts and all the pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor, together with the red peppers, garlic, parmesan, basil, olive oil, and a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blitz until you obtain a smooth paste, adding a bit of pasta water if it looks too dry.
And that's most of the recipe done. While you make the red pesto sauce, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving a cup of water, stir in the mascarpone and red pepper pesto, and stir until combined. If needed, add a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce.
To serve, add the pasta to individual bowls and top them off with the rest of the walnuts, roughly chopped, some grated parmesan, and rocket salad.
Tips for making this roasted red pepper pasta salad
- You can use roasted red peppers from a jar or make your own by grilling three or four fresh red peppers on the grill or in the oven. In both cases, make sure you don't burn them too much, as you will be able to feel the taste in the red pesto (unless you like it, of course).
- You can also use a mix of colours if you don't have all red peppers, but the final colour of the pesto will be different.
- If you want the red pepper pesto to have a bit of a kick, you can add ¼ teaspoon of red chilli flakes.
- This pasta salad with red pesto keeps for up to five days in the fridge, which makes it ideal for meal prep or to make in advance for a family gathering or a picnic.
What is the best pasta shape to use in this recipe?
This pasta dish works perfectly with short pasta such as strozzapreti or casarecce pasta, but you can also use any other short pasta varieties you might have available. Examples include penne, fusilli, and gemelli. Quick fun fact — "strozzapreti" means "priest stranglers" in Italian. The name of the pasta comes from a story about a priest who apparently choked because he ate too much pasta.
If you liked this walnut pesto pasta recipe, check out some my other pasta dishes:
- 500g (17 oz.) strozzapreti pasta (or another short variety)
- 100g (3.5 oz.) walnut
- 25 g (1 ounce) pine nuts
- 4 roasted red peppers, quartered
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan
- 1 pack fresh basil
- 75g (2.5 oz.) mascarpone
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rocket salad (arugula), two handfuls
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry pan until they change colour but are not burnt.
- Remove the walnuts from the pan and toast the pine nuts, careful not to burn them.
- Add half of the walnuts and all the pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor, together with the red peppers, garlic, parmesan, basil, olive oil, and a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Blitz until you obtain a smooth paste, adding a bit of pasta water if it looks too dry.
- Reserve one cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Return it to the pan and stir in the mascarpone and red pepper pesto. Stir until combined. If needed, add a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce.
- Serve in individual bowls topped with the remaining walnuts, roughly chopped, extra Parmesan and rocket salad to taste.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 642Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 284mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 14g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.