No more Pesto Pasta: Delicious Alternatives

Rhiannon·7 January 2023·7 min read
No more Pesto Pasta: Delicious Alternatives

Pasta is such an easy and cheap meal for us students, but it’s so easy to fall into the pesto pasta trap. I can guarantee that I have pesto pasta at least once a week and it gets boring very quickly! There are SO many amazing things you can do with pasta, so here are some of my favourite simple pasta recipes. And you can adapt these however you want, throw in any leftover veggies or meat you may have in the fridge, and it’ll taste amazing.

Avocado pasta sauce

One which divides opinions, but something I personally love.

You will need:

(3 servings)

An avocado

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup of grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast for the vegans)

1 clove of garlic

Handful of fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, basil – whatever you fancy)

2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice

Salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste

Any nuts/seeds (optional) for that extra protein

1. Throw all your ingredients into a blender and blend. You can also use a hand blender or mash your avocado and chop everything else extremely finely.

2. Cook your pasta and throw in pasta water if you’d like to loosen up the consistency.

3. Mix the sauce with your pasta in the pasta pan until you’re happy with it.

You can store the remaining sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days and use it to whip up a quick meal. I wouldn’t recommend freezing this sauce.

Tomato pasta sauce

A firm favourite and a classic. You can also easily make this in bulk and freeze extra portions to have when you don’t want to cook.

You will need:

(2 or 3 servings of sauce)


1 or 2 onions.

Packet of basil.

As much garlic as your heart desires.

A tablespoon of tomato purée (optional).

A tablespoon of white wine (optional).

Tin of chopped tomatoes.

Half a stock cube (optional).

Salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste.


1. Chop and fry an onion in any oil on a medium-high heat.

2. Once the onion is translucent, throw in some finely chopped basil stalks and garlic. Continue frying for a couple more minutes until the garlic is nicely browned.

3. Here, to add a richer tomato flavour, you can stir through some tomato purée for a minute on a lower heat (optional). If anything sticks to the bottom of the pan, you can de-glaze the pan with some white wine (optional). Some water is also fine if the student budget does not account for wine!

4. Here, throw in a tin of chopped tomatoes and let this bubble away on a low heat for about 10 minutes to intensify the tomato flavour. You can also crumble in a stock cube to add some depth, make sure this is stirred in properly.

5. Season with salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste, be careful with salt if you’ve added a stock cube.

6. Finally, finely chop the basil leaves and let these wilt into the sauce.

7. If the sauce is too thick, throw in some pasta water bit by bit until you’re happy with the consistency. If you have a hand blender, you could also blend the sauce to make it smooth, but this is optional.

You can also store the sauce in the fridge for 2 days or freeze in portions.

This recipe is also really yummy with some chorizo thrown in with the onions and finished off with some mozzarella and spinach at the end.

Broccoli Pasta

A super cheap one which will give you a needed iron boost.

You will need:

(2 servings)

A broccoli

Chilli & garlic (however much you like)

Any hard Italian cheese (parmesan, pecorino etc)

Lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

Seasoning (salt & pepper)

Miso (teaspoon) (optional)

Pine or pistachio nuts (optional)

2 servings of pasta

1. Finely chop your broccoli and cook in salted boiling water. DO NOT throw away your broccoli water. Fish your broccoli out with a slotted spoon or drain your pan over a bowl

2. Once the broccoli is cooked, fry in a pan with oil, garlic and chilli.

3. Cook your pasta in the broccoli water. This can be cooking whilst you continue with the rest of the recipe. If you’d like some extra greens, throw in some frozen peas 4 minutes before your pasta is done.

4. Add some pasta water into the broccoli pan bit by bit to form more of a sauce. Once a sauce is formed, grate in your hard cheese until you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce. Squeeze in some lemon juice.

5. Throw your cooked pasta in with the broccoli sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Some miso is also quite nice stirred in here.

6. If you have them available, this is nice topped with pine or pistachio nuts and more cheese.

Again, this should store in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple of days! Try baking the leftovers in the oven/grill topped with cheese.

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Orzo

You will need:

(2 servings)

Bacon (optional)

Olive oil

1 onion

1-2 cloves garlic

Chilli flakes

A tub of mushrooms

2 servings orzo

Stock cube

Lemon juice (teaspoon)

A hard cheese

Pesto (1-2 tablespoons – taste and decide)


Salt & pepper to taste

(Other green veg such as broccoli, peas or asparagus are also lovely here!)

1. If you’re adding bacon, fry this in a large pan.

2. Chop and cook your onion in bacon’s oil in the same pan. If you’re not using bacon, just fry as usual in olive oil.

3. Once the onion is translucent, throw in garlic and chilli flakes.

4. Add your chopped mushrooms and fry on a medium heat until halved in size.

5. Make up your stock according to package instructions. Once the mushrooms are cooked, throw in the orzo, stir for a minute, this will lightly toast the orzo, then cover with stock and lemon juice and turn the heat right up.

6. Keep stirring the orzo, tasting occasionally to check whether cooked. Don’t let the orzo stick to the bottom of the pan, you can always add boiling water if the orzo is not cooked but you’re out of water. Just add in small amounts so that there’s as little liquid as possible leftover once the orzo is cooked.

7. Once the orzo is near enough cooked, stir through spinach, hard cheese (however much you want!) and pesto for some flavour.

8. Season with salt and pepper, be careful with salt if you add bacon.

Again, this should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple of days.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for your pasta recipes! Maybe a 2023 pesto pasta detox is possible (for about a week). If you do make any of these recipes, make sure you tag our social media account so we can see!