Walnut Pesto Pasta
This easy pasta is bursting with flavor, thanks to a quick homemade pesto sauce. Cooking whole-wheat pasta with green lentils provides extra plant-based protein, and I love how you don’t need to use much cheese to achieve a classic pesto taste. Stir in any vegetables you have on hand to complete this comforting meal.
Prep: 10 minutes
Pressurize: 6 minutes
Cook: 9 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
4¼ cups water
8 ounces whole-wheat pasta, like rotini or penne
½ cup green lentils
1 cup lightly packed arugula
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup raw walnut halves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, chopped
One 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Pour 4 cups of the water into the Instant Pot, add the pasta and lentils, and stir well to make sure they are submerged in the water for even cooking. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing . Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.
2 While the pasta is cooking, combine the arugula, basil, lemon juice, garlic,walnuts, the remaining ¼ cup water, and the salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until a relatively smooth pesto forms.
3 When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and press Cancel to stop the cooking cycle. Use oven mitts to remove the pot and drain the cooked pasta and lentils in a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse with cold water to remove some starch and stop the cooking process. Dry the pot with a towel and return it to the Instant Pot housing.
4 Press Sauté and add the olive oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tomatoes, zucchini, and artichoke hearts and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the drained pasta and lentils and pesto sauce and toss well to coat. Stir in the Parmesan and several grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, then serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.
MAKE IT VEGAN Omit the cheese, and add 2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast to add a “cheesy” flavor.
MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE Omit the whole-wheat pasta and use a gluten-free variety, like brown rice or legume-based pasta, and replace the green lentils with red lentils (which cook faster than green lentils). Cook at high pressure for 0 minutes and let the pressure naturally release for 8 minutes.