Avocado Pasta! If you haven't tried making creamy pasta sauce using avocados, you've been missing out! A no-cook avocado pesto sauce comes together in minutes; tossed with your favorite pasta, it's a healthful meal that you'll want to make again and again!
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Note: This post was originally published on March 5, 2012 and updated on February 22, 2022.
Not to contradict Kermit, but it's so easy eating green! Whether you're looking to make your easy weeknight meals a bit more nutritious or interested in experimenting with unexpected ingredient combos, this simple Avocado Pasta is sure to please.
A rich, creamy avocado pesto sauce makes the perfect addition to your favorite pasta in this satisfying meal. Keep it as-is for a meatless Monday dish or add grilled chicken or shrimp to up the protein factor -- no matter how you make it, I guarantee it won't be your last time!
This recipe is naturally gluten-free (if made with gluten-free pasta) and vegetarian, and can be made dairy-free & vegan. (See Substitutions area below.)
Avocado pesto is what makes this Avocado Pasta spectacular. It adds a silky, decadent flavor and texture that is reminiscent of a cream sauce, without actually including any cream! Basil and arugula add a fantastic, hint of herbaceousness while toasted almonds bring a nutty bite to the pasta party. I love how simple it is to blitz together in a food processor or blender.
How to Toast Almonds
Pesto, in general, often calls for toasted nuts of some kind - pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc. In this recipe, I use toasted almonds and I think it works beautifully with the rest of the ingredients.
Toasting nuts brings out their natural, nutty flavor. The oils in nuts are brought to the surface when toasted, giving them a really nice toasty aroma and a delicious crunch. That's why you'll often see recipes call for lightly toasting nuts before adding to baked goods and other types of recipes.
To toast almonds, you'll just need a small skillet. Place the sliced almonds in the skillet and heat over medium until they become lightly golden and fragrant. This only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on them -- I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally burnt them! Alternatively, you can place them on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Here's what you'll need:
- Ripe avocados - Two small or a medium will do. These not only add healthy fat to the dish, but also incredible creaminess.
- Arugula - Give a perfect, peppery bite.
- Basil - Infuse the pesto with the classic, aromatic herb flavor.
- Toasted almonds - Instead of pine nuts, which are found in classic pesto, almonds add rich nuttiness here.
- Lemon juice - Tartness helps cut the richness of the avocado.
- Garlic - Traditional pop of flavor.
- Sea salt - Brings out the flavor of all ingredients.
- Parmesan cheese - Cheese makes everything better! It is, however, optional if you want to make this dish vegan.
- Pasta - Choose your favorite! Check out my pasta noodles guide below for some ideas.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, make the avocado pesto: Place avocado, arugula, basil, ¼ cup toasted almonds, lemon, garlic, sea salt and ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor (or in a blender). Process until totally smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the mixture and help it process.
Toss together cooked pasta and avocado pesto in the pasta pot or in a large serving dish. Add pasta water a tablespoon at a time, if needed, to help loosen the sauce.
Serve pasta hot with a sprinkle of remaining toasted almonds and parmesan cheese if desired.
Healthy Pasta Noodles
There are tons of nutrients and good things in the sauce for this Avocado Pasta, but if you're thinking, "Why stop there?" and want some more nutrient-rich, gluten-free, or alternative pasta types to use in this dish, I've got you covered! A few good options include:
- Lentil or Chickpea Pasta. Legumes are packed with protein & fiber, and also generally contain less carbs than traditional pasta.
- Quinoa-based Pasta. Many of these also contain corn and rice, but are generally gluten-free.
- Hearts of Palm Noodles. Made from, you guessed it, hearts of palm strips, these are a good one-ingredient option.
- Zucchini Noodles. "Zoodles", as they call them, are simply long strips of zucchini and make for a nutritious pasta substitution.
- Egg Noodles. The dish I photographed for this post was actually made with Glute Free Egg Fettuccini, and we really enjoyed it!
- Brown Rice Pasta. We use brown rice pasta often as a GF alternative to regular pasta because it is very similar to classic semolina pasta and stands up well to all types of sauces.
Avocado pasta stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator should last about 3-4 days.
Avocado Pasta would be great to serve with a side salad, garlic bread or a protein side such as meatballs or grilled shrimp!
Try these substitutions for diet-specific needs:
- Gluten-free: Be sure to use a gluten-free pasta such as egg noodles or any of the pastas suggested above.
- Vegan/Dairy-free: Omit Parmesan or substitute with a plant-based version.
More Healthy Pasta Dishes
Tried Avocado Pasta and can't get enough of better-for-you pasta and pasta-like dishes? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Zucchini Noodles with Kale, Onion & Goat Cheese
- Pistachio Pesto Skillet Pasta with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
- Zucchini Ribbons Romesco
- Food processor
- Medium pot
- 1 pound pasta of your choice I used GF egg fetuccini
- 2 small avocados halved, peeled & seeded
- 2 cups arugula
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup sliced almonds toasted
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup grated parmesan divided
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, make the avocado pesto: Place avocado, arugula, basil, ¼ cup toasted almonds, lemon, garlic, sea salt and ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor (or in a blender). Process until totally smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the mixture and help it process.
- Toss together cooked pasta and avocado pesto in the pasta pot or in a large serving dish. Add pasta water a tablespoon at a time, if needed, to help loosen the sauce.
- Serve pasta hot with a sprinkle of remaining toasted almonds and parmesan cheese if desired.