Good, tasty food shouldn’t be this easy – right? Treat yourself to the perfect midweek meal with our creamy, nutty pesto al pasta (basil pesto pasta) recipe. When we first went to Italy, we experienced what pesto pasta should really taste like, over the years we’ve experimented and while this isn’t strictly traditional, we think you’ll agree that it’s absolutely delicious!
Why you’ll love this pasta recipe
Creamy pesto pasta sauce is something that we always have in our home, either freshly made or in the freezer, because you never know when you want a comfort food fix.
Thanks to Corrie Cooks for making a great video for us!
What ingredients will I need?
If you’re making your own pesto, then you’ll need all the ingredients in the photo, if you’re using store-bought, then you’ll just need the pasta, pesto, and the optional cheese and pine nuts to garnish.
How to make pesto pasta with step-by-step instructions
Making our best pesto pasta recipe is easy if you follow our simple instructions.
A full printable recipe along with the measurements in both US customary and metric is available in the recipe card below.
Not making your own pesto sauce?
Skip directly to the ‘for the pasta‘ section.
If you’re making homemade pesto sauce (optional)
Roughly break or chop up your Parmesan cheese and place it in a food processor or blender.
Now, add in the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, and blanched almonds
Next, you’ll need to add the zest of one lemon and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Finally, add extra virgin olive oil.
Secure the lid on your food processor and blitz until you have a smooth pesto sauce.
Taste and season with kosher salt and pepper if needed.
For the pasta
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add your spaghetti and cook according to the package directions.
When the spaghetti is cooked, it should be al dente, carefully take a cup full of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Add the drained pasta to a bowl and add the pesto and a little of the reserved pasta water, approximately ¼ of a cup, stirring thoroughly to combine and coat the pasta evenly.
Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with toasted pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, and finely grated parmesan cheese (vegetarian version).
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Pesto pasta recipe notes and expert tips
Do I have to make my own pesto?
No, you don’t, you can use a store-bought pesto sauce.
But homemade pesto is so easy to make and the difference between store-bought and homemade pesto sauce is like night and day.
It takes just 15 minutes to make pesto, so while you’re boiling the pan of water and waiting for the spaghetti to cook, you could easily make some.
We’ve got a really easy basil pesto recipe, it’s cheesy, nutty, and bursting with flavor.
The great thing with pesto is that it freezes well, you can make a big batch up and freeze it in tablespoon portions in ice cube trays.
Once the pesto is frozen, you can pop them out and put them in a bag, and hey pesto (sorry, we couldn’t resist that), you’ve got homemade pesto sauce whenever you need it.
Is pesto vegetarian?
Most store-bought pesto sauces are not vegetarian because they contain parmesan cheese.
Parmesan cheese contains rennet, so if you are buying a jar then make sure you buy one suitable for a vegetarian.
Our homemade basil pesto is vegetarian as we use vegetarian parmesan cheese or Italian hard cheese.
Don’t add olive oil to pasta water
You may hear that when you cook pasta putting a little oil in pasta water will stop it from sticking together, but all it does is make your pasta oily and for this pesto pasta recipe, it would mean that the pesto will not stick to the pasta.
The simple way to prevent your pasta from sticking together is by stirring it – yes, it’s that simple, just stir it!
Why do you add pasta water to pesto pasta?
The pasta water is a crucial part of pesto pasta sauce.
If you don’t add a little of the reserved water that you cooked your pasta in, it’ll be dry and a little clumpy.
You want a delicious creamy pesto pasta, and the starchy pasta water allows the sauce to coat the cooked pasta perfectly.
What pasta goes with pesto?
Our creamy pesto pasta recipe is perfect as a standalone main meal, but if you did want to add a little extra to it, then why not try it with a Caprese salad, an Italian green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, or garlic bread.
If you’d like a good appetizer then try our caprese skewers made with fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella balls.
Why not try burrata basil pesto pasta from Call Me Pmc!
How much pesto should you add to pasta?
We use around 1-2 tablespoons of basil pesto sauce per person but use your own judgment and adjust the portions accordingly.
Other spaghetti recipes that you’ll love
If you’re a big fan of spaghetti recipes like us, then you should give these delicious pasta dishes a try;
We hope you enjoyed making and eating our pesto pasta recipe and would love to hear how you got on with it.
Please leave a comment below and feel free to ask any questions you have.
Pesto pasta recipe
If you're making homemade pesto sauce (optional)
- 10 oz Parmesan cheese roughly broken into chunks
- 4 tsp Basil leaves with stalks removed
- ½ Clove Garlic
- 4 tsp Pine nuts
- 4 tsp Blanched almonds
- ¼ tsp Lemon zest
- ¼ tsp Lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For the pasta
- 1 pinch of salt
- 12 oz Spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese (optional) finely grated
- Toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Fresh basil leaves (optional)
If you're making homemade pesto sauce (optional)
- Roughly break or chop up your Parmesan cheese and place it in a food processor or blender. Now, add in your basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, blanched almonds, lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil. Secure the lid on your food processor and blitz until you have a smooth pesto sauce. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper if needed10 oz Parmesan cheese, 4 tsp Basil leaves, ½ Clove Garlic, 4 tsp Pine nuts, 4 tsp Blanched almonds, ¼ tsp Lemon zest, ¼ tsp Lemon juice, 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, Salt and black pepper
For the pasta
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add your spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. When the spaghetti is cooked, it should be al dente, carefully take a cup full of the pasta water and then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to a bowl and add the pesto and a little of the reserved pasta water, approximately ¼ of a cup, stirring thoroughly to combine and coat the pasta evenly. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with toasted pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, and finely grated parmesan cheese (vegetarian version). Serve immediately and enjoy!1 pinch of salt, 12 oz Spaghetti, Parmesan cheese (optional), Toasted pine nuts (optional), Fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Make a batch
Make a double batch of your pesto sauce and freeze it in tablespoon portions in ice cube trays, so that you have it whenever you need it!
- Add tomatoes
Add halved cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted cherry tomatoes
- Got leftover pesto pasta?
Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days, no need to reheat, eat at room temperature
- Don’t toss the pesto pasta in the cooking pot
It’ll be too hot, and it could turn the pesto brown, which is most off-putting!
- Tempted to put olive oil in the pasta water?
Don’t do it! It’ll prevent the basil pesto sauce from sticking to the pasta
Please note that nutrient values are estimates only. Variations can occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of origin, preparation, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.
Learn how to make pesto pasta with step-by-step photos to help you!
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