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Walnut Basil Pesto Penne with Roasted Cauliflower

I’m so excited to share my newest pasta recipe with you! Equal parts amazing taste, texture, and nutrition, it’s packed full of some of my favorite foods, including walnut basil pesto (hells yes!), fresh lemon, crispy arugula, mushrooms and roasted cauliflower. Like I always say, when it comes to pasta, there’s no need to deprive yourself of carby comfort food every once in a while, just make sure you load it with a variety of nutritionally dense foods. This dish has a little bit of everything to please the palate, belly and body.

The star of this recipe is definitely the Walnut Basil Pesto. If you’ve never experienced it, I highly recommend you do. This stuff is so nutritious and tasty that I often keep a jar full in the fridge for a variety of culinary uses. Now, please don’t think you can skip making this pesto in exchange for purchasing jarred pesto at the store. You’ll be sorely disappointed, and you’ll totally miss out on all the goodness this recipe has to offer. Besides, I have yet to taste a jarred pesto as rich and flavorful as this recipe.




[Tweet “If you’ve never experienced walnut basil pesto, I highly recommend you do so, starting with this recipe.”]


Yes, I’m being absolutely 100% biased when I make this statement, but you have my word when I tell you that jarred pesto cannot compete when it comes to taste and nutrient content of this recipe. The walnuts alone offer a whole host of wonderful benefits for our health.  They’re rich in monounsaturated fatty acids as well the super anti-inflammatory omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). How many brands of jarred pesto come with this kind of nutritional support? To hear me brag more about my pesto check out this bruschetta recipe.







It’s rare when I don’t find a way to squeeze my favorite sexy cruciferous vegetable into a recipe. I talk about it like it’s the superhero of the plant world. I know, some of you might be thinking, “it’s only cauliflower,” but I assure you it’s so much more. Let’s talk about nutritional content for a moment–it’s like hitting the phytonutrient jackpot. With each and every bite, comes an impressive array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation, boost heart & brain health, increase detoxification, fight cancer and provide a host of other really awesome things that keep our bodies healthy.


cauli and shrooms


As you can see from the recipes below, it’s no exaggeration when I say I’m crazy about cauliflower.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash

Roasted Garlic & White Wine Cauliflower Alfredo with Spring Vegetables

Winter Salad with Roasted Beets & Cauliflower

Leeks with Cauliflower Cream Sauce

Not only is cauliflower highly nutritious and versatile, it’s absolutely delicious when roasted. I’ve found that cutting the head into larger pieces and roasting them flat side down on parchment paper without tossing, creates beautifully caramelized edges that enhance both taste and texture. Broccoli could never pull this off…




As I mentioned already, adding lots of nutrient dense foods is the first rule of thumb for the guiltless enjoyment of pasta, the second is using high-quality gluten-free pasta. The brand I always recommend is Jovial Foods — authentic, artisan crafted organic pasta from Tuscany. I basically rave about them in every pasta recipe post, so my apologies if I sound redundant. However, since I absolutely love everything about this company, I want you to learn about their story here. If you’re as passionate about conscious nutrition as I am, I’m certain you will appreciate what they do.




The other nutrition heroes in this recipe are mushrooms and greens. I chose portobello but feel free to upgrade to shiitake, oyster, chanterelle or cremini. You seriously can never get enough of the goodness that mushrooms have to offer. For greens, I particularly adore arugula. Its peppery flavor goes so well with basil and balsamic. If arugula isn’t your thing, spinach or baby kale would work just fine. Just make sure you add lots of greens!




Walnut Basil Pesto Penne with Roasted Cauliflower
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Note: for the greens to stay crisp, make sure pasta, shrooms and cauliflower are cooled.
  • 12-14oz Penne (I like JOVIAL Brown Rice Penne) or your favorite kind of gluten-free-pasta
  • ½ - ¾ head cauliflower (or use the whole head and save a roasted portion to munch on later for snacks)
  • 12oz portobello mushrooms
  • 3-4 handfuls arugula (or your favorite green)
  • 1-2 lemon wedges
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • 2 T EVOO
Walnut Basil Pesto:
  • 3 C basil, packed
  • ¾ C walnuts (soaked at least 12 hrs and rinsed & drained)
  • ¼ - ½ C EVOO (more for a thinner pesto)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut your head of cauliflower into large florets and toss with a little EVOO to coat. Add to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 20 minutes. Add the portobellos and toss well. Continue to roast for an additional 20-25 minutes tossing the shrooms at least once. Flip any cauliflower pieces that may be browning too quickly--usually the smaller pieces. When the cauliflower is nice and brown, remove baking sheet from oven and let cool.
  3. Cook penne according to instructions and drain. Toss with a little EVOO to prevent sticking and set aside.
  4. Making Your Pesto: Combine ingredients in a food processor, process until well blended, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Adjust ingredients to suit your taste. Set aside.
  5. Toss pasta with arugula or greens of choice, cauliflower, mushrooms, pesto and 1 or 2 lemons wedges.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4
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Ok pasta lovers, have a go with this recipe and enjoy all of its goodness, especially the pesto! You’ll have zero regrets. Then please come back and share your experience here. And as always, if you would like more recipes like this make sure to sign up for my newsletter, and stay in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Also, make sure to add #yogitrition if you post your photos.





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  1. If you didn’t use all the pesto in one dish, how long does it tend to last in the fridge?

    • It should be good up to a week, maybe a little less.

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