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Pesto Pasta Two Ways | Easy Recipe For Both Meat-Lovers & Vegans

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To me, basil pesto is one of the most beautiful flavours – not only is it strong and vibrant, but it works well with lots of other tastes. Before going vegan, bacon pesto pasta was one of our favourite regular meals, and due to its ease of cooking I absolutely loved making it (even after a hectic day at work!). I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to eat it ever again but couldn’t bear it, so devised an alternative that’s fully vegan and works just as well as the meat-containing version. It’s also healthier due to the veggies and non-dairy cream, which is a real bonus for me!

In an ideal world you’ll be making just one of them however, like me, you may live in a household that contains both vegan and non-vegan people. For this reason I’ve written the recipe so you can easily make both at the same time, and all ingredients are measured per person, rather than per two or four servings. Making both adds a little more effort than just making one, but despite this it only uses one more pan and really is no more difficult as timings all work out the same.

Portions: 1
Prep time: 15 minutes
Suitable for: vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free

Ingredients

  • 80-100g pasta per person
  • 45g basil pesto per person*
  • A dash of single or double cream*
  • Grated parmesan or cheddar, to serve (optional)*
  • Olive or vegetable oil for frying

For the meat version:

  • 2 slices of bacon per person

For the vegetable version:

  • 40g asparagus per person
  • 60g mushrooms per person
  • 100g courgette per person
  • 30g frozen peas per person

*These ingredients can be dairy or non-dairy depending on what version of the recipe you are making – if making both then use non-dairy products.

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Method

  1. Heat some water in a pan and cook pasta according to packet instructions.
  2. Prepare the bacon/vegetables by cutting into strips or slices (for size recommendation I cut the courgettes into quarter moons).
  3. Fry the bacon/vegetables until cooked through and browned to your liking. At the same time, cook the frozen peas according to package instructions. Once frying is done, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Drain the pasta once al dente and return to the pan, adding the pesto and cream. The amount of cream depends entirely on your taste preference, so add a very small dash to start with and add more as necessary.
  5. If you are making just one version of the recipe, add the bacon/vegetables to the pasta (drain the peas first) and stir through to combine over a low heat until it is all heated through (30 seconds to a minute). Serve on its own or topped with cheese if desired.
  6. If making both versions at the same time, return all three pans to a low heat until cooked through. Serve the pasta first and top with the bacon/vegetables and cheese if desired.
Pesto pasta (vegan version) topped with spring vegetables

Adaptations

  • As with all my recipes, you can easily substitute the vegetables I have chosen – many vegetables would work with this dish including spinach, tender stem broccoli, and tomatoes.
  • To add some extra crunch then you can include toasted pine nuts which work beautifully with the pesto – simply fry these in the pan before cooking your bacon/vegetables and add in at the end.
  • If you’re making the meat version then you can also add chicken along with the bacon, or swap out the bacon entirely for chicken.
Both versions of pesto pasta - bacon in foreground and spring vegetables in background

Which version of this pesto pasta do you think you’ll be making first? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin as well!

You can read some of my other recipes here:

Vegan Tofu Stir Fry
Vegan Vegetable Couscous

Bacon/vegetable pesto pasta Pinterest image

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