This 4-Ingredient Pasta Sauce Recipe Is Simple & Full Of Flavor

Spaghetti with Pesto

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Until I made this Easy Pine Nut Pasta Sauce from my book, Whole Food Cooking Every Day, I had never had a really good bowl of vegan pasta. You know, the kind of ultra-simple pasta that feels like a hug, the sauce gently coating each strand and bringing all the ingredients into union.

The lack of umami-rich Parmigiano-Reggiano is noticeable in many vegan pasta dishes, but combining crushed lightly toasted pine nuts with a little lemon, olive oil, and salt results in the "more-ish" flavor and texture of a successful pasta, sans dairy. Once your pasta is coated in this sauce, you can add anything from lightly cooked spring vegetables to a hearty red sauce.

Easy Pine Nut Pasta Sauce

Makes ½ cup

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  • ½ cup (2½ ounces | 60 g) raw pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste


  1. Warm a medium skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Toss in the pine nuts, reduce the heat to low, and toast, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until fragrant and golden.
  2. Transfer to a mortar or mini food processor (see Note) and add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Use a pestle to crush the nuts and grind until a paste forms. Or, if you're using a mini food processor, blend until smooth, scrape the sides, and blend again.
  4. Use immediately, or store the sauce in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Note: If you only have a regular-size food processor, you may need to double this recipe to get it to blend up smooth; if you don't want to make extra sauce, just blend until it is as smooth as possible, stopping to move the mixture around to help it blend.

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