Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti gives the regular vegan pesto pasta a whole new flavor! This healthy spaghetti sauce recipe inspired by Spanish cuisine makes a great vegan pasta sauce! Give your regular spaghetti a delicious twist by making vegan picada pesto made with no cheese.
Heard of this sauce before?
Are you hearing the word Picada for the first time? I came across this recipe for the first time while going through a food magazine at the checkout counter of Publix. I love browsing through these food magazines in those few minutes I get while waiting in line at the checkout counter. A quick scan through the pages gives me so much inspiration, especially in food styling and photography. One such picture had a bowl of picada sauce which immediately caught my attention. I made a note of it and decided to check it out once I got back home.
I realized there is not much info about it on Pinterest but google did have some info. Picada is a dense, hand-pounded paste of toasted bread, nuts (mostly almonds), garlic, olive oil, and other aromatic ingredients. It was invented in the Catalonia region of Spain most likely in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, during hard financial times. The traditional picada was used as the most efficient way to make simple dishes taste as spectacular as the food served during prosperous times.
This sauce became so popular eventually that it has now found a place in many Catalan cookbooks. La picada is used as a thickener in stews and soups and is added at the end of the cooking process which gives the dish its final flavor. Picada reminds me of the Indian chutney or the Italian pesto. They all are very similar.
For the love of pasta sauce!
Since I loved how delicious and flavorful this sauce already sounded, I decided to make it anyways. I discovered that this sauce is a keeper for sure! It's summery, vibrant, and so flavorful! Plus, like a chutney or pesto sauce, Picada too can be made in just 10 minutes using a few ingredients. I decided to use this as a vegan pasta sauce and was impressed with the final outcome! This has now become my go-to vegan pesto recipe whenever I run out of cheese or want to eat something light.
The picada recipe is very unique because it's base ingredients are roasted or fried bread and almonds. They give a nutty and crispy flavor to this sauce. Picada can be made coarse or smooth. I was going for coarse consistency but ended up with a smooth one. But hey, no complaints, as it doesn't alter the taste but just the texture.
BTW, if you want to experiment with the flavor and color, try Beets Pesto for a change! You may end up liking this different vegan pesto recipe as well!
Why I love this recipe
What is not to love about this spaghetti recipe? It is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, made with no cheese, and can be put together in 20 minutes! All you need are just these few ingredients:
- a packet of whole-grain spaghetti
- picada sauce which can be used as pesto sauce
- veggies - I have used edamame and these beautiful yellow mushrooms which I had picked from a local indoor farmer's market. But you can add any veggies you want.
Weeknight meals cannot get any simpler than this! Here's a tip - Set aside some of this healthy spaghetti sauce for later. Spread it over toasted bread, top it with sunflower seeds, avocado, and vegan cheese. Then enjoy it as a light snack or for breakfast!
Homemade Pasta Recipes
If you are here because you love pasta, then also do check out these favorite pasta recipes of mine.
This vegan pesto pasta is simple enough for a busy weeknight dinner, yet elegant enough for a special occasion. The first step is to cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the packet. Do not overcook the spaghetti. keep it al dente. Then strain and keep it aside for now.
The next step is to prepare the vegan pesto recipe - Almond Picada.
Pic 1 - In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Lightly toast the almonds, jalapeno, and garlic until lightly golden, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner.
Pic 2 - If using leftover bread, roast them in olive oil and then cut them in cubes. I toasted Italian breadcrumbs instead. Transfer the cubes or breadcrumbs to the food processor along with roasted almonds, garlic, any remaining olive oil from the skillet, and the fresh or dried parsley. Pulse until coarsely ground for a crumbly picada, or pulse it longer by drizzling more olive oil for a more creamy paste. Vegan pasta sauce is ready.
Pic 3 - Heat olive oil in the same skillet. Add and fry the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes or until they are soft and cooked.
Pic 4 - Then add edamame and continue to saute for more 4-5 minutes or until the water in them evaporates.
Pic 5 - Now add the ground picada (which I call the healthy spaghetti sauce) and saute for a minute.
Pic 6 - It's time to add the spaghetti. Then add salt and pepper according to your taste. Toss it all together and after a minute take it off the flame.
As I mentioned before, this vegan pesto pasta doesn't require any cheese and trust me, you will not even miss it! Picada gives this pasta a deeper and lustier taste than any butter or cream would. That is why I call it the healthy spaghetti sauce! It's so easy to make, yet when you're eating it, it tastes like a restaurant-worthy dish!
What to serve with spaghetti
The crunch of a simple Cucumber salad is a great accompaniment to the soft comfort of a spaghetti dinner. You can also serve Baked Bagel Parmesan Chips or some garlic bread along with it. I enjoy my vegan pesto pasta with no accompaniment!
Top tips for making this recipe
When making Picada, you can also mix hazelnuts and pecans with almonds. If you have a nut allergy, use sunflower seeds instead. You can also add a pinch of saffron to this sauce.
While I have used spaghetti here, you can use any pasta available to you to make this dish. I prefer using whole-grain pasta over refined pasta. Use gluten-free pasta if you are following a gluten-free diet. Cooking pasta in a vegetable broth gives it so much more flavor. Try it if you have never done that!
I have added yellow mushrooms and edamame but you can add any veggies you have handy, like bell peppers, green peas, onions, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, or broccoli. Even any other variety of mushrooms would work here.
You can use this vegan pesto sauce in other recipes as well. This vegan pasta sauce can also be used as a marinade, dip, pizza sauce, a spread on slices of bread, or it can be baked into bread or mixed into a salad dressing. The options are endless. Make a batch of this and store it in an airtight container.
It stays food in the fridge for 5-7 days. This pesto sauce freezes well for up to 6-9 months. Add a few drops of olive oil to seal the top of the pesto in the container so it doesn't get freezer burn.
If you’ve tried this Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how it went by commenting below, I love hearing from you!
Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti
To make Picada
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 Jalapeno
- 12 almonds
- 1 tsp olive oil or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or 3 bread slices
- 1/4 cup parsley
To cook Spaghetti
- 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
- 8 cups water
To make Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 100 gms mushrooms
- 1 cup edamame
- salt as needed
- pepper as needed
To make Picada
- In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Lightly toast the almonds, jalapeno, and garlic until lightly golden, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner.
- If using leftover bread, roast them in 1/2 tsp olive oil and then cut them in cubes. I toasted Italian breadcrumbs instead. Transfer the cubes or breadcrumbs to the food processor along with roasted almonds, garlic, any remaining olive oil from the skillet, and parsley.
- Pulse until coarsely ground for a crumbly picada, or pulse it longer by drizzling more olive oil for a more creamy paste. Vegan pasta sauce is ready.
To cook Spaghetti
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and then add the spaghetti in it. Cook al dente.
- Strain the water once done and keep it aside for now.
To make Almond Picada Pesto Spaghetti
- Heat olive oil in the skillet. Add and fry the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes or until they are soft and cooked.
- Then add edamame and continue to saute for more 2-3 minutes or until the water in them evaporates.
- Now add the ground picada and saute for a minute.
- It's time to add the spaghetti. Then add salt and pepper according to your taste. Toss it all together and after a minute take it off the flame.
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