Today, I am going to give you a very simple, yet very tasty equation in your kitchen…
Pesto + Pasta = Pesto Pasta
Get your hands on the biggest bunch of some fresh basil. Whip up a quick Pesto Sauce and swirl it with the pasta of your choice. That’s it.
If you feel like adding some cherry tomatoes or any other veggie, like today we had some asparagus shoots, even better. Pesto Pasta with a little veggie boost…
Quick and easy meals are the only way to go on busy work nights. Just home from a long work day and needing to feed yourself, or a whole family, is quite a daunting task.
Save this Pesto Pasta for such days. All you need is 20 minutes in your kitchen. OR even less if you already have a jar of pesto sauce in your refrigerator…
This Pesto Pasta Recipe is for You, if
1. You are a fan of pesto sauce and looking for how to use it in a meal. All that fresh, vibrant nutty pesto sauce envelops any pasta deliciously.
2. If you’re in a hurry. As mentioned before, it’s a very quick and easy meal to put on the table.
3. This is an ideal meal prep dinner idea where you can make the pesto a day, or even 5-6 days, in advance. It’s ideal for using any leftover pasta from another meal, too.
4. It refrigerates well, and can be eaten at room temperature, without reheating, as pasta salad.
5. The basic pesto pasta is like blank canvas, and can be customizable in so many ways by adding different veggies or protein. We will give you plenty of ideas later down the post.
6. Homemade pesto sauce is better, but you can use good store brand pesto for even lazier, or more hectic days.
How to Make Pesto Sauce
If you really want to make this dish with real, vibrant and fresh pesto flavors, homemade is way to go. Making homemade pesto sauce is so quick and easy.
We have a whole post just dedicated to this legendary Italian sauce on GypsyPlate. Simple click Pesto Sauce.
Pesto Sauce Ingredients
- Fresh Basil – Fresh, happy looking basil, not mopey and sad. If you don’t have it in your garden or kitchen already, you would find it a plenty in a farmer’s market or local produce store in summer time. Another way to find it is those potted plants in your grocery store. Chop him up for tonight, then let him grow for more pesto. Wash gently and pluck the leaves off the stem.
- Pine nuts – These give a nutty, buttery flavor to your pesto. Check out our collection of favorite pine nut recipes.
- Fresh whole garlic cloves – You only need a couple of them here, just enough to to get that sublime pungent note, not enough to ward off vampires. Remember, you can always add more if you want, but can’t take it out.
- Cheese – When it comes to cheese, it’s up to you if you want to use Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Just one rule of thumb to follow is that pesto need hard, salty, aged cheese. Nothing creamy or soft here, you want some substance, chunkiness and a little texture.
- Olive Oil – Some use extra virgin, some use a lighter olive oil. I use both, but today my mood and my pantry said extra virgin. Make sure you are using good quality oil for the best flavor.
- Coarse Salt – Season it with your heart, and be sure to taste and adjust.
- Lemon juice – A dash of this tanginess in your pesto really elevates it to the 100th degree.
Four Quick Steps
- Blitz in your blender or food processor. Pulse basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, cheese, and salt a few times until everything is chopped. You need to pulse and not blend, as we need a rough pesto texture, not too thin or smooth.
- Slowly drizzle olive oil once all the above ingredients are chopped and combined. Drizzle in between pulses and make sure everything is well combined and emulsified. If needed, stop and scrape the sides of the blender to make sure everything gets mixed.
- Don’t forget the lemon juice! Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and pulse a final time.
- Taste and adjust. My favorite step! Now is the time to adjust “your” pesto according to “your” taste. Want some more salt… or garlic… or even more cheese or lemon? It’s all what YOU want!
Once you have your Pesto Sauce ready, Making Pesto Pasta is a breeze…
Pesto Pasta Ingredients
- Pesto Sauce – 1 cup of the above home made pesto sauce, or store bought pesto sauce.
- Pasta – You can use any larger pasta of your choice for this recipe. Today we used bucatini noodles, but spaghetti, penne, rotini, bow-ties and rigatoni will work great too.
- Veggies – Asparagus and cherry tomatoes today.
- For garnish – Pine nuts, fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
- Olive oil
- Salt – To taste.
How to Make Pesto Pasta
- Make pesto: Easy and simple.
- Cook Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and leave it aside.
- Cook Veggies: Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Add in whole cherry tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 additional minutes.
- Mix in pasta + pesto: Add in pasta and pesto sauce, and mix well to coat everything with pesto sauce. Add roasted pine nuts. Taste and add salt accordingly, noting that pesto already has salt.
- Garnish: Garnish with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Pesto Pasta Variations
1. Play with your Pesto: In place of basil, or along with basil, add spinach, arugula, kale, parsley, or cilantro. It would give a great varied taste to your pesto, depending which herb or greens you use.
Great substitutions for pine nuts are walnuts, almonds (we would recommend blanching the almonds), pistachios or cashews. You want to know our favorite replacement for pine nuts? More buttery than pine nuts? Macadamia nuts! Boy, that’s yum pesto!
You can even use different hard cheeses in pesto. How about some asiago? All sounds great and gives a little different flavor to your own homemade pesto sauce.
2. Add or Minus the Veggies: You can serve this pesto pasta minus any veggies. It’s a great tasting combo just like that, simple pesto sauce swirled in with your pasta.
On the other hand, so many veggies can be delicious here. Mushrooms, zucchini, peas and green beans are great contenders.
3. Add in protein: Simply sauté some chicken or shrimp to add in to the recipe. Ground chicken or ground turkey can fit in well too, giving that extra protein power.
4. Make it creamy: A dash of cream is so so good here, making it a creamier and richer dish.
5. Give it a little heat: Add 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes to the mix. It’s yum.
Leftover and Storage
Store leftover pesto pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. We do not recommend freezing the pasta, but you may freeze the pesto sauce, and it freezes beautifully!
You can freeze in large batches if need be. But we like to freeze the sauce in smaller portions so we can use it several times, even when summer is past and basil is not readily available.
For this, freeze the pesto in ice cube trays and, once frozen, take them out and store these cubes in a freezer bag, then freeze them till you are craving for pesto time.
You can reheat pesto pasta in a microwave until warmed through. You may need to add a little olive oil or water if the pasta looks dry. Some people might prefer to eat it at room temperature, or straight out of refrigerator, as a pasta salad. It’s that easy of a meal.
So there you go, one more easy pasta recipe out of the GypsyPlate kitchen. Make your life simple and tasty with all of these easy dinner ideas.
The next time you see that fresh, good looking basil, grab it to make an addictive pesto sauce for your pasta meal.
Yes… or you can go ahead and grab that good brand of ready made pesto sauce, too, for an even easier meal. You deserve it to not slave too much in the kitchen.
Pesto Pasta, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 cups basil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese (or other hard cheese)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 12oz bucatini or spaghetti
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 6oz asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
- Rinse basil and remove leaves from stem. Peel garlic.
- Add basil leaves, garlic cloves, cheese, salt and pine nuts to blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until ingredients are blended into a coarse mixture.
- Drizzle in olive oil and pulse blender until all ingredients are well mixed. If needed, scrape sides of blender to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
- Add lemon juice and again pulse.
- Taste and adjust salt, garlic and cheese to your taste.
- Bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and leave it aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet and sauté asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Add in whole cherry tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in pasta and pesto sauce and mix well to coat everything will with sauce. Add roasted pine nuts. Taste and add if necessary.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 423Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 4mgSodium 392mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 9g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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