This hearty pesto pasta recipe gets dinner on the table in half an hour and only uses one pot in the process. An easy Homemade Vegan Pesto is packed full of fresh herbs and cheesy flavor (thanks to nutritional yeast) so the tender penne noodles are coated in a dreamy green sauce. Toss in some red beans, juicy tomatoes, crunchy carrot, and tangy red onion to add extra good-for-you ingredients to this Italian-inspired dish. This recipe also yields a large amount, so make this for meal prep to enjoy throughout the week!

By Nancy Macklin, RDN,

Last Updated:


  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. dry whole wheat penne pasta
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 1 recipe Homemade Vegan Pesto or ¾ cup purchased oil-free vegan pesto
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added red beans, rinsed and drained (1½ cups)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • In a large pot combine the first four ingredients (through carrot) and ½ cup Homemade Vegan Pesto. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 8 to 12 minutes or until pasta is just tender.
  • Stir in tomatoes, beans, and the remaining pesto sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Comments (18)

(4 from 11 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Joanne Kendall

This is a terrible tasting dish. I am trying to go vegan an I am finding it very hard to find good easy flavorful dishes. I believe there are not very many good dishes out there that don't take a lot of time. I ask people who are vegans to share their recipes and they never do. Now I know why there are very few recipes that are good. I only found 2 soups I would make again. A bean soup and minestrone soup. I can't always eat that. I also like to make dishes I can eat all week so I don't have to cook after work.


I have made this many times but I add asparagus cut inti 1/2 pieces & sun dried tomatoes. I also use chicken pea pasta. Very yummy.

Diane S

This recipe is not right! When it was finished there was too much liquid even before adding the rest of the pesto. I removed 2 cups of the liquid after it was cooked and it was still soupy. I drained all of the rest in a colander. Then I added the pesto. The recipe needs to be worked over again! This is the first FOK recipe that I would consider a failure. I try new recipes daily.


Well this is tricky to rate. I followed the recipe to the T. The taste was nice. But it looked absolutely nothing like the photo. Better described as a chunky soup. I can't help but feel the recipe is wrong.


If it wasn't for the chickpea noodles I used it would've probably came out perfect. I also didn't use a sauce pan which I think helped with some of the water issue.

Anna Gladstone

Any way to help gluten free pasta in this recipe not turn to mush?

Megan Edwards

Hi Anna, This is a tricky one because gluten free pasta requires a bit of special treatment to not turn mushy, like you pointed out. We suggest making this a two-pot recipe by cooking the pasta and veggies separately. In one pot, cook your pasta just past al dente or to whatever consistency you enjoy. In another pot, sautee the red onion and carrots in just enough broth until they become tender and moist, likely no more than 1/4 cup of broth (you can disregard the call for 3 cups broth since you are cooking the pasta separately). Once the veggies are done, add the precooked pasta to the pot and stir in the pesto and remaining ingredients. This should result in a very similar dish without overcooking the gluten free pasta. Let us know how it goes!


Bland and dry


I would like to try this recipe but I am confused. Do I use 2 cups of water to boil everything till done then do I drain whatever liquid is left before adding the rest of the items?


This recipe is delicious and very easy to make. I loved the pesto recipe as well. Thanks for clarifying the extra cup of water. It looks just like the picture. Most of all it taste delicious. Will make it again. It will be on my rotation.


Made this with 16 Oz of pasta instead of 8 (we are a family of 5) and used 4 cups of broth instead of 3. Also I waited to add pesto until after pasta and veggies were done cooking. Everyone in the family loved this recipe and it looked just like the picture My husband even asked me to pack the leftovers for him to bring to work tomorrow!


This recipe was so simple and super delicious to make! I did the recipe exactly as is and I would 100% come back to this. There was no extra cup of water FYI, so I suppose (based off the comments) I made this recipe after the edit :)


Are you supposed to drain the water after the pasta is done — before adding in the tomatoes and beans??

Eileen Turner

How many calories. And protein in one serving??

Rebekah Welch

Delicious! My husband and I both like this dish and my husband gives it 10 stars. I followed the directions but like the other reviewer, mine looks nothing like the picture. Mine is creamy. By boiling it and then simmering it, it created a creamy pesto sauce, which is delicious.

Courtney Davison

Hi Rebekah, Thanks for the review! Yes, the pasta is meant to be undrained. Because you and another reader mentioned it turning out a bit more liquid-heavy than you anticipated, we revised step 1 of the instructions to omit the 1 cup water. Thank you again, Courtney Davison Editor Forks Over Knives

Linda Brooks

Looks so good

Jessica Sylvester

Recipe doesn’t state if you need to drain the pasta or not so I didn’t and the dish looked nothing like the photo. Ended up with a semi watery consistency sauce. In saying that it still tasted pretty good! Added some spinach to the dish at the end. Would definitely make again.

About the Author

Headshot of Nancy Macklin

About the Author

Nancy Macklin, RDN

Nancy Macklin has a bachelor of science in dietetics from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in health services administration from the University of Saint Francis. Macklin worked as a hospital-based clinical dietitian, providing counseling for diabetes, heart disease, and weight loss and as a food service director in health care dining sites. She now serves as a test kitchen dietitian, developing 500+ recipes per year. She is a member of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and International Association of Culinary Professionals. Find her on LinkedIn.
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