Pesto Pasta Recipe
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Pesto Pasta Recipe preparation might surprise you — it serves 8 people and takes just 15 minutes to throw together! Sound too good to be true? Well, it definitely tastes too good to be true!
Pasta is one of those irreplaceable weeknight wonders. It’s ready in no time, is super filling, and is totally inexpensive.
And since you can serve it with just about any vegetables, meats, or seasonings, you can make something every member of your family will enjoy!
Pesto Pasta Recipe
Fresh basil and pine nuts give this Italian dish a full, herbaceous flavor, and smooth olive oil gives it a luxurious texture.
What else? Everyone’s favorite: parmesan cheese! Throw in some garlic and just a dash of salt and pepper.
Simple, natural flavors piled onto your plate in no time. Try my chicken bellagio for an amazingly delicious dish.
This is a simple yet filling dish that you can enjoy any time!
However, fresh basil is best enjoyed in the summer through the fall, so making spaghetti with pesto sauce will taste the best during the warmer months of the year.
Love pesto? Don’t worry — there’s more where that came from! Try this baked tortellini, cheesy chicken pasta bake, or Instant Pot chicken pesto!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Basil – This herb has a very strong flavor — it’s sweet and peppery at the same time, but also savory and minty.
You don’t really want to swap it out, but spinach, kale, parsley, and cilantro can sub in for a somewhat similar flavor. Or, try using a mix for a more complex flavor!
- Pine Nuts – You can use walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or hazelnuts instead. Or you can leave them out altogether if you’re not too nuts about nuts!
- Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil is the way to go with this one — actually, with almost any recipe that calls for it!
It has the most flavor out of your olive oil options.
- Spaghetti – You can use any pasta you like! Short, tubed pastas are popular for these pasta salad-type flavors, but really any kind will do.
Pesto Pasta Recipe Tips
Don’t rinse the noodles.
You don’t want to rinse the pasta before tossing in the pesto. The starches help the sauce cling to the noodles, so the stickier they are, the better!
Use freshly shredded cheese.
Grate a fresh wedge of parmesan for this pesto pasta recipe. None of that powdered stuff — this tastes so much better!
Fresh cheese has fewer additives and chemicals, so it’s healthier, too.
Slow and steady wins the race!
When making the pesto, add the olive oil slowly and gradually, until you get just the right thickness and consistency.
Keep in mind, you can always add more oil, but you can’t take it away!
Storing and Reheating
I’ll be honest — this pesto pasta recipe makes a whole lot of sauce! Like, enough to coat 4 pounds of cooked spaghetti!!!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months.
Of course, you can just as easily make a half batch if that’s better for you.
Once the noodles are coated in sauce, it actually tastes better if it sits overnight in the fridge! Just like the pesto, enjoy your leftovers within 5 days.
You can reheat them in the microwave, in 15 second bursts until warm, or enjoy it cold.
Almost any vegetable makes a great side with pesto spaghetti. Potatoes, roasted peppers, and tomatoes are excellent choices.
Don’t forget to add some greens – my copycat Olive Garden Salad and Italian Dressing would be fabulous!
Pesto Pasta Recipe FAQ
With Mediterranean dishes, there are plenty of vitamins in pesto to get excited about!
Basil is rich in vitamins K and A, while olive oil contains antioxidants and helps to lower blood pressure as well as inflammation.
As with all things, however, the key lies in moderation. Too much olive oil is unhealthy, so don’t overload each meal with the stuff. A serving of pesto is just enough!
I think that chicken, especially when grilled or baked, is the best protein to serve with pesto sauce.
But steak, pork, seafood — any of it goes well with the olive oil, herbs, and seasonings that are in the mix.
But my favorite ways to serve pesto sauce are to coat the protein with the pesto and bake it. Or, use the mixture as a marinade before grilling the meat.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Other Easy Pasta Recipes
Easy Pesto Pasta
- 4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
- 8 cloves garlic, or 3 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil, adjusted if necessary (See Notes)
- 2 pounds uncooked spaghetti, or pasta of choice
- Add basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a food processor and process on high power until mostly smooth.
- With the processor running on low power, very slowly drizzle the oil into the food processor, stopping when desired consistency is reached. (More or less than ¾ cup may be used).
- Cook 2 pounds of pasta to al dente. Drain water, but do not rinse pasta; Transfer pasta to a serving dish, toss with ½ of the pesto and serve while hot.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published July 2022, updated and republished June 2023
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I love making pesto pasta for family dinners, and this one was great! Loved that there was extra sauce to save and use later.