Treat yourself to a big bowl of the BEST Pesto Pasta!
This scrumptious dish features an easy homemade pesto that you're sure to love. Best of all, 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.
About the Recipe
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 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.
This recipe is so minimal that it almost seems silly to include an ingredient list! Here's what you'll need:
- Homemade Pesto Sauce - (Basil, Garlic, Parmesan, Olive Oil, and Pine Nuts)
- Dried Pasta
- Parmesan Cheese, Optional
Simple, right? For the best results, you really do need to make your own pesto from fresh, top quality ingredients. It couldn't be easier or quicker, and the flavor is amazing. Sooo much better than anything store-bought.
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 go to 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.
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 saucier, more full-flavored pasta.
I kept this recipe simple and classic, but there are so many delicious and easy ways to change things up! Try adding fresh or roasted vegetables to the basic recipe. The veggies will add a little extra color and make the meal special enough for guests.
You could also add a little crunch by sprinkling the top with breadcrumbs. For a yummy topper, try sautéing panko and garlic in a little butter until golden.
Secret Trick for Perfect Pasta
Unfortunately, this classic pasta can be bland and dry if you don't make it right. Thankfully, I've got a not-so-secret trick for perfect pasta!
Before draining your pasta, reserve one cup pasta cooking water. Then, as you're mixing the pasta and pesto together, add the reserved water, little by little. The hot, starchy water will emulsify the sauce and help it to coat the pasta evenly.
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 and amazing pasta.
How to Make Pesto Pasta ... Step-by-Step
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 just al dente ... it should be tender, but have a little bite in the middle.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto sauce. It takes minutes to make in a food processor.
Most important step .... when the pasta is ready, reserve one cup of pasta water. Don't forget, because you'll need it in the next step.
Drain the pasta in a large colander, then transfer it back to the cooking pot (off the burner) or to a large bowl. Add the homemade pesto to the pasta, then use a pair of tongs (or a couple wood spoons) to gently mix the pasta and pesto together
As you mix the pasta, add a little pasta cooking water, bit by bit. The hot, starchy water will emulsify the sauce and help it to coat the past.
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.
And that's it, time to eat. Serve your homemade Pesto Pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then dive it. Yum!
Then, check out these recipes next:
- Cilantro Pesto Pasta
- Hummus Sandwich with Pesto
- Kale Pesto Pizza
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Pesto Pizza with Grapes and Feta
- Roasted Veggie Bowl with Creamy Pesto Sauce
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Kale Pesto Pasta
- Green Pizza with Feta, Artichokes, and Broccoli
- 1 pound spaghetti (or other pasta)
- kosher salt
For Pesto Sauce:
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 4 cups basil leaves
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 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.
- While pasta cooks, place garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Add basil, Parmesan, olive oil, and a little salt to garlic mixture. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Season generously with additional salt to taste. Set aside.
- Return drained 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 (a bit at a time) to create a cohesive sauce that coats the pasta evenly.
- Season to taste with additional salt, if needed.
- Serve pasta immediately, topped with additional shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!
What is your favorite late summer recipe?