Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta With Toasted Pine Nuts

Homemade basil pasta with green pesto in bowl

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  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This delicious gluten-free pasta dish is full of fresh basil pesto flavor and nutty, high-energy toasted pine nuts. Gluten-free pasta products have come a long way; no longer do gluten-free cooks have to deal with mushy, flavorless products. Serve this delicious gluten-free pasta as a side dish to chicken or fish entrees, or pack it for a convenient, on-the-go gluten-free lunch.


  • One (12-ounces) package of gluten-free spaghetti
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 cups basil leaves (loosely packed, stems removed)
  • 3 cloves garlic (freshly peeled, sliced in half)
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts (1/4 cup for pesto sauce and 1/2 cup to top pasta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup for pesto sauce and 1/4 cup to top pasta)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (coarsely grated; 1/2 cup for pesto sauce and 1/2 cup to top pasta)

Steps to Make It

  1. Cook the gluten-free spaghetti according to package instructions. After rinsing and draining, return the cooked pasta to a large pan.

  2. Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a medium-size heavy skillet and lightly brown over ​medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and watch carefully–pine nuts go from golden brown to burned quickly.

For the Sauce:

  1. Place basil leaves, sliced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of the toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup of the coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor.

  2. Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of olive oil through the processor feed tube while pulsing the processor. Pesto is done when the mixture is just pureed; don't over process.

Assemble the Pasta Dish:

  1. Pour the pesto sauce over the cooked pasta in a large pan on the stovetop. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over the pasta/pesto mixture and add remaining 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts.

  2. Use tongs to gently coat distribute olive oil and pine nuts.

  3. Top with remaining 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.

  4. Over medium-low heat, warm the pasta for three minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Tips: For convenience, pesto sauce and toasted pine nuts can be prepared ahead and frozen. Thaw for about 30 minutes before preparing the recipe. Pesto sauce can be prepared traditionally, in a mortar and pestle, or in a blender.

Reminder: Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans, and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.