Gluten Free Walnut Pesto Pasta

Hosting a friend or family member who is affected by Celiac disease this summer? Make sure they aren’t left-out! This Gluten Free Walnut Pesto is a delicious, fuss-free and safe dish to serve that won’t break the food budget. 

Gluten Free Pesto

This post contains sponsored content. I was fortunate enough to receive monetary compensation and/or products from Barilla Canada. Although compensated for my efforts, all opinions are my own.

I want to use this walnut pesto recipe as an opportunity to share something that is very important to me. May has been recognized as Celiac Awareness Month in Canada and I have partnered with Barilla Canada to bring my readers information about Celiac Disease and safe cooking practices. Now, with all the media attention and focus on GF (that’s Gluten Free!) recipes on Pinterest I am sure many people know what Celiac Disease is and just how serious it is, but here is a quick refresher (from a non-medical professional who knows how to check her sources):

According to Health Canada, Celiac Disease is an inherited condition that affects nearly 1% of the population.  Currently, the only way of effectively managing the condition is a life-long commitment to a gluten-free diet. If not, the risk of developing some pretty serious complications such a infertility and lymphoma rise. One tiny slip-up or mistake can result in skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues and extreme fatigue, just to name a few. (If you are interested in reading more on the subject, I encourage you to head straight to the sources at Health Canada and Canadian Celiac Association for scientifically and medically accepted information).

Why is this so important to me? Well, one of my best friend’s was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just a little over 3 years ago. I have been by her side from the aftershock of the initial conversation with her Doctor, to the realization of her diagnosis, to navigating Las Vegas menus for safe food. I see the struggle she has had from day one to completely overhaul her diet to ensure a happy and healthy future for herself. But she can only do so much. She has to rely on friends, family, coworkers, food service personnel and food manufacturers to ensure this future for herself. It’s not just her problem.

Celiac Disease means supporting your friends

I love this girl! She stood by my side at my Wedding. I’ll stand by her for life!

Here are my top 5 tips to follow when preparing food for someone who is Celiac:

  1. Purchase products that are manufactured in a certified gluten free facility, like Barilla’s Gluten Free Pasta
  2. Wash pans and utensils thoroughly, line pans with tin foil to reduce chances of cross-contamination
  3. Verify all your ingredients for wheat. This includes your soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salad dressings, marinades etc. Know that wheat content can differ from brand to brand
  4. Save packages of chips, rice crisps and pasta for your Celiac guest to review the ingredient list. They may want to verify as it puts them at ease.
  5. If you don’t know, ASK. Your friend is only a text or call away. You aren’t ‘bugging’ them! Trust me, they will appreciate it.

Tips for preparing food for celiac friends

Alright, now let’s talk PASTA! Gluten free pasta, that is!

Barilla’s Gluten Free Pasta isn’t just good for gluten free, it’s simply good pasta. The pasta is made with their own blend of white and yellow corn in a separate dedicated gluten free facility! The taste and texture is bang-on and I promise you your other guests won’t turn their nose up! In fact, if they know your other guest is Celiac, you may see a moment of panic in their face as you all settle down to a generous bowl of pasta.

To help with your menu planning, Barilla offers four varieties of certified gluten free pasta. For my pesto I leveraged their spaghetti noodle but they also offer penne, rotini and macaroni cuts. Barilla is my friend’s first choice for her pasta needs due to the flavour, texture, price-point and overall options.

To keep things affordable at a dinner party, I created a gluten free walnut pesto pasta. As much as I love pine nuts, they simply are not affordable! My walnut pesto uses garden fresh basil, walnuts, canola oil and creamy Parmesan cheese to give to you an affordable, safe and impressive summer dish perfect for company!

Barilla Canada Gluten Free Pasta

Gluten Free Walnut Pesto Pasta

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Category: Dinner, Pasta, Vegetarian

Servings: 4 servings

Gluten Free Pesto


  • 1 package of Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of garden fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water
  • Additional walnuts


  1. Boil water in a large pot. Once reached a rapid boil, salt and add spaghetti noodles to water. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a blender or food processor pulse walnuts for 5 seconds.
  3. Add garlic, basil, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Blend on low, slowly adding canola oil through the small opening. Blend until smooth.
  4. Drain pasta into serving dish, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  5. Toss pasta with pesto. Add 2-4 tablespoons of pasta water and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle with additional walnuts and serve immediately.

Part of the Budget Basics Recipe Series



  1. Thanks for the gluten-free recipe! I’m so glad that you mentioned saving packages so we can read the labels. I feel like I’m constantly rummaging through friends’ kitchens to read labels before eating. We really do like to read them for ourselves!

    • PeppersPennies

      Hi Cathy! I am SO happy you came-by as you were on my mind when working on this dish! My friend is super relieved when I save packages, it allows her to sit back and enjoy the party with the rest of our friends. It’s the little actions that count!

  2. Such a great recipe idea – I’m always down for more affordable pesto ingredients! Looking forward to sharing this recipe with my Celiac friends

    • PeppersPennies

      Right? Pesto is so expensive to make the traditional way. Walnuts are a good replacement, as long as you leverage the pasta water to ensure the correct texture of the sauce. Thanks for spreading the word!

  3. Great recipe ! And thanks for sharing the information on Celiac . I have a friend who has Crohn’s and her diet is gluten-free too. So this will be a great recipe to share with her. Thanks !

    • PeppersPennies

      Yes, that is another very legit reason to avoid gluten! Has she discovered Barilla’s GF pasta yet? I am so impressed with it, not only is the taste on par but the texture isn’t gummy like other brands and it cooks nicely. Let me know if she tries out the recipe 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Vicky!

  4. This is such great information about cooking for those with Celiacs. My boyfriend’s mother has Celiac and it was a learning curve for me to figure out how to cook for her – I am so happy that there are more and more resources like this popping up to demystify the process for the rest of us!

    • PeppersPennies

      Hi Megan! Thank you so much for coming-by and sharing your story. When someone you love is diagnosed with Celiac it isn’t just a change of diet for them. It *has* to be a shift in thinking for friends and family, too.

  5. First of all, I love nuts in pasta. There’s just something so scrumptious about the contrast of tender + creamy noodles with some crunch added in there.

    Second, I have a good friend with celiac as well. Discussing this topic and making people aware of it — and emphasizing that yes it’s an actual *real* thing — is so important. Thanks to the droves of fad dieters that jumped onto the GF wagon thinking it was a way to lose weight, gluten sensitivities diet are often not taken seriously. I find it so important to remind people that the trend lies in the world of fad dieting, but gluten intolerance itself is no trend. Thanks for touching on this!

    I’ll definitely be sharing this recipe with her 🙂

    • PeppersPennies

      Right? This is an important topic that I don’t see touched on too much. Sure, we can all through together a gluten free dish, but have you thought about your kitchen, your actions and the other dishes you may be preparing at the same time? Cross-contamination for those diagnosed with the disease is a very serious thing that needs to be brought into the limelight a bit more!

      Also, yes to all the nuts in the pasta. In my recipe testing I didn’t serve it with the extra walnuts and it as a last minute decision for the photos. Made it soooo much more yummy (and filling, for cheap)!

  6. Amanda, this looks like the perfect lightened up spring pasta recipe — I love the bright and fresh flavours! I don’t have Celiac Disease but I do have a gluten sensitivity and am always on the lookout for great gluten free pasta options. I’m definitely putting this one on my list to try — I’m a big fan of corn based pasta!

    • PeppersPennies

      Thank you for your kind words, girl! I 100% think this is the best GF pasta I came across, and I have had quite a few! Add that to the fact that this is an affordable spin on pesto, I am a huge fan of this dish!

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