Trapped in our homes and surrounded by delicious food, the Freshman 15 has quickly warped into the Quarantine 15. We’ve all been taking our best shot at homemade dinners and baked goods, so I’m here to offer you a healthy (but still delectable) alternative: veggie pesto pasta. This pasta is vegan, packed with greens and only takes about 20 minutes to throw together! 

Laura Tucker / Daily Nexus


  • 2/3 cup dried pasta of choice (I usually use penne)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh arugula
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 handful raw almonds
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Red chili flakes, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup asparagus
  • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, saved from cooked pasta


  1. Make your pesto. Combine basil, almonds, a pinch of salt, pepper and red chili flakes, garlic, lemon juice, avocado and olive oil in a food processor (or high-powered blender if that’s all you have) and blend until creamy. Add more olive oil if you need it.
  2. Boil your pasta. I prefer penne, but it’s really up to you. Just make sure you boil it in very salty water (we’re talking seawater status!) and only until al dente. No soggy pasta, people! 
  3. Sauté your veggies! Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan and add chopped asparagus and artichoke hearts. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, making sure not to overcook — you don’t want mushy veggies!
  4. Combine pesto, pasta, cooked veggies and fresh arugula … enjoy!

If you don’t like the taste or texture of fresh arugula in your pasta, just add it in with your other veggies toward the end to soften it up. And make sure you save your pasta water — It really makes a difference in the final consistency of your sauce.