RECIPE: Pesto Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Smoky Lentils

Pesto pasta with brussels sprouts and smoky lentils

This recipe is perfect for that pesto you made with your end-of-summer basil crop and threw in the freezer—only to forget about it until fall. Or does that only happen to me?

If you make the pesto & lentils ahead of time, everything else comes together pretty quickly. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftover lentils to use in other recipes throughout the week. I made mine on Sunday and added some to my stuffed acorn squash. Then, yesterday, I made this pasta. Today, I added some of the lentils to marinara sauce (along with some veggies and Tofurky sausage). And I plan on using them to top a salad for lunch tomorrow.

Not into lentils? I usually make this with Sweet Earth bacon or Tofurky Italian sausage. In fact, when I made it with the lentils I was worried I was losing out on flavor. But my boyfriend, who is not usually a fan of lentils, said he didn’t even think about missing the sausage, and he liked the texture the lentils provided.

Pesto Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Smoky Lentils
8 oz rotini pasta

For the smoky lentils:
1 cup green or brown lentils
3 cups vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon’s no chicken base + water)
Few dashes liquid smoke
1 TBSP low sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
1 TBSP ketchup
1 TBSP rice vinegar
¾ tsp smoked paprika
1 TBSP brown sugar

For the Brussels sprouts:
About 2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved & ends removed
½ tsp salt
pinch-¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Olive oil, for cooking

For the pesto sauce:
Scant ¼ cup walnuts, broken into pieces
1 cup basil, packed
½ cup baby greens (I used a spinach & kale blend)
6 cloves roasted garlic (or 2 cloves fresh)
½ tsp salt
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
¼ cup olive oil, plus more as needed

First, make the smoky lentils.
Combine all lentil ingredients in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer with lid slightly ajar for 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender. (Note: they’ll stay a little crunchy even when fully cooked due to the vinegar.) Drain and set aside.

Then, start roasting the sprouts.

Brussels sprouts prepped for roasting

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray baking sheet with oil. Place Brussels sprouts cut side down on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Start the pasta.
Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta & sprouts are cooking, make the pesto*.
Combine all pesto ingredients into a food processor. Blend until combined and no large chunks of nuts, basil, or garlic remain. Taste and adjust ingredients for preferred texture & flavor.

Put it all together.
When pasta is finished cooking, drain and return to pot. Add freshly roasted Brussels sprouts, ⅓-½ cups pesto sauce, and ¾ cups smoky lentils. Mix to combine. Serve immediately.

*If you have a favorite pesto recipe (or already made your pesto), feel free to use that. I never make pesto the same way twice; this recipe happens to be the most recent one I made. It makes just enough for the pesto pasta (about ⅓-½ cup).

I wrote this post as part of VeganMoFo 2016. For more information, visit You can also follow along via my Instagram feed (@louzilla394).

4 thoughts on “RECIPE: Pesto Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Smoky Lentils

  1. I hated sprouts until a few years ago, and now I can’t get enough of them! I still tend to think of them as only Christmas food, as we only ever had them for Christmas dinner when I was a child. Whenever I see them in a non-festive dish like this, it’s a nice little reminder that I should eat them more often!

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