Treat yourself to a big bowl of this amazing Pesto Pasta tonight ... it's ready in minutes, and it's bursting with bold, fresh flavors!
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Each year when the calendar turns to August, I immediately start thinking that summer is ending. Which is kind of ridiculous since I live in Texas ... we have at least two months of blistering heat to go. But those back-to-school vibes are so hard to shake, ya know?
This year, I'm embracing these remaining summer months, and my favorite way to do that is through cooking. Garden fresh produce is everywhere right now, and I'm here for it.
When it comes to simple, summery dishes, this yummy Pesto Pasta always comes to mind. Although you can make this recipe year round, I especially love the fresh flavor of all that basil right now.
Best of all, it's super quick and easy to make. Perfect for all those busy weeknights, but still tasty enough for serving guests, too.
You've probably had pasta with pesto sauce before, but has it ever really blown you away?
To make amazing Pasta with Pesto, you need two things. First, homemade pesto sauce is a must. Sure the store bought stuff is convenient, but it could never compare to homemade in terms of freshness and bright, bold flavor.
And you also need my simple trick, which I'm sharing below! This easy tip is the key to making the best bowl of Pesto Pasta, and it couldn't be easier.
Keep reading for all the delicious details.
Ingredients for Pasta with Pesto
This recipe is so minimal that it almost seems silly to include an ingredient list! But here's what you'll need to make pesto sauce pasta:
- Homemade Pesto Sauce
- Dried Pasta
- Parmesan Cheese, Optional
I definitely recommend making your own pesto. It couldn't be easier or quicker—you only need five ingredients and five minutes—and the flavor is amazing. Sooo much better than store-bought pesto.
You may also want to add fresh or roasted vegetables to the basic recipe (get inspired by this yummy pasta recipe) for a little extra color and to make the meal special enough for guests. It's pretty perfect just as-is though, so it's up to yo!
What pasta is best with Pesto?
Pesto can be served with almost any pasta. It works very well with spaghetti or linguine, as well as shaped pastas, such as fusilli or farfalle.
You'll need one pound of dried pasta for this recipe. I used my favorite spaghetti, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. This recipe should work with almost any shape, as long as it's not super intricate.
How to Make Pasta with Pesto Sauce
You won't believe how quickly this recipe comes together, so let's get started!
This first thing you need to do is cook the pasta in large pot of boiling, well-salted water. With such a simple recipe, it's important to cook the pasta properly. You want to cook the pasta until it's al dente ... it should be tender, but have a little bite in the middle.
Very important!! Before draining the pasta, make sure to remove one cup of pasta cooking water from the pot. Set it aside.
Don't skip this step. You need the hot, starchy water to make perfect Pasta Pesto!
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto sauce. You can also do this ahead of time, if you prefer.
Prep any other ingredients (such as fresh veggies) now, too. However, if you want to use roasted vegetables or other cooked ingredients, start preparing them before the pasta. You want to ensure they're ready at the same time as the pasta ... timing is of the essence.
When the pasta is ready, drain it in a large colander. Then, transfer it back to the cooking pot (off the burner) or to a large bowl.
Add the pesto to the pasta, then grab a pair of tongs (my fave method) or a couple wood spoons. Use them to gently mix the pasta and pesto together, adding a little pasta cooking water along the way.
If you are including veggies or other ingredients, toss them in when the pasta is almost completely coated with pesto. Once everything is blended, taste the pasta and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if needed.
Secret Trick for Making Perfect Pasta with Pesto
As you're mixing the pasta and pesto together, add the pasta cooking water that you reserved earlier, little by little. The hot, starchy water will emulsify the sauce and help it to coat the pasta evenly.
You want to add just enough water to create a sauce that evenly coats the pasta. Generally speaking, it takes about ½ cup water ... sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on how much water clings to your pasta after draining it.
Don't skip this step! It really does make all the difference between so-so pasta and great Pasta Pesto.
Pesto to Pasta Ratio
You will need ⅔ to 1 cup of pesto per pound of dried pasta. I prefer to use a full cup, which will give you a more full-flavored pasta.
And that's it, time to eat. Don't you want to dive right in to that big bowl of basil Pesto Pasta? I know I do!
I like to serve this pasta sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese. It's the perfect finishing touch.
Treat yourself to this yummy pasta in summer using pesto made with basil picked fresh from the garden, or anytime you're craving a simple, yet boldly-flavored Italian meal.
This easy recipe is quick enough for weeknight dinners, but special enough for guests. However you serve it though, this easy Pesto Pasta is one recipe that you need to have in your back pocket!
- 1 pound spaghetti, or other pasta
- 1 cup homemade pesto **
- Parmesan cheese, optional
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
- Remove 1 cup of pasta cooking water (set aside), then drain pasta in a colander.
- Return pasta to pot (off heat) or place in a large bowl. Add pesto.
- Mix together pasta and pesto using a pair of tongs or two wood spoons. Add just enough of the pasta cooking water to help the pesto evenly coat the pasta.
- Serve pasta immediately, topped with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!
Loved this Pesto Pasta?
If you enjoyed this yummy pasta, you can find over 30 recipes using pesto here! These are a few of my faves:
- Pasta with Cilantro Pesto
- Hummus Sandwich with Pesto
- Pesto Pizza with Grapes and Feta
- Roasted Veggie Bowl with Creamy Pesto Sauce
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Green Pizza with Feta, Artichokes, and Broccoli
What is your favorite late summer recipe?