Pasta al pesto, or pesto pasta, is a dish that spells total comfort! If you have homemade pesto in your store cupboard handy, then you can whip up this dish in under 15 minutes and enjoy its deliciousness!
This post contains helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link above or the "Jump to" links below to get to the section you want.
I always have a bottle of basil pesto and this hearty marinara sauce in the back of my fridge. With these two sauces with me, I feel like I can conquer the world - well, at least the culinary world 😆.
Quick and easy dishes such as this pesto pasta (as well as this spinach stir fry and this sautéed okra) are my saviors on days when time is scarce! They give me the comfort, nourishment, and deliciousness that I look for in a weeknight meal.
You can serve this pasta dish on its own or with roasted vegetables on the side for a more wholesome meal. See the section below for serving suggestions and ideas.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What type of dishes do you enjoy when you have little time in hand? - Padma.
Allergens Free Labels
This simple pesto pasta dish is plant based and therefore is dairy free recipe. It is also soy-free. You can make it gluten free: see the notes section below.
About this pasta recipe
Pasta al pesto (pasta el pesto) means pasta with pesto in Italian and it is the ultimate comfort budget food. It usually features long, flat pasta such as linguine and fettuccine that allow the pesto sauce to coat them thickly. Trofie is another traditional pasta shape for this recipe.
To add bulk and make it filling, green beans and potatoes are usually added to this comfort budget dish.
The pesto sauce, also known as pesto Genovese, comes from the Genoa region in Italy. It consists of crushed garlic, Genovese basil, pine nuts, salt, olive oil and (of course) Parmesan cheese.
This is a basic recipe that requires just a few ingredients. However, you can also add more ingredients to enhance the flavors and textures. See the notes section below for some suggestions and ideas.
See the recipe card further below for quantities.
Pasta: This recipe is usually made with linguine, but I prefer to use spaghetti. You can also choose any other type of pasta - penne, fusilli, farfalle, macaroni - that you like.
Pesto: For this recipe, I have used dairy-free homemade basil pesto.
Tomatoes: I love using cherry tomatoes for this recipe. You can use any tomato that you have with you.
For best taste, use good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Nutritional yeast: Also known as nooch, I love using this for its deep umami flavor. You can use vegan parmesan cheese instead, if that is what you prefer.
Fresh basil leaves are optional, but they will give the dish a herby fragrance.
The salt quantity here is only for the tomatoes. I assume that the pesto you use has salt in it and that you cook the pasta in salted water, as the packet instructions say.
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
How to make pesto pasta
This easy pasta dish comes together in under 15 minutes, that is if you have pesto handy.
Come, lets make this pesto pasta recipe.
Step 1: Follow the packet instructions to cook the pasta. Save 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, roast the tomatoes: Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. Place a frying pan on medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and place the halved tomatoes, skin side down and sprinkle salt on them.
Roast them for 1-2 minutes. Flip each tomato over and roast for another 1-2 minutes or until they have become slightly squishy and still holding their shape.
Remove from heat and keep them aside.
Step 3: Assemble the spaghetti al pesto: Tip the spaghetti, while it is still warm, to a large bowl.
Add the pesto, reserved pasta cooking water, remaining olive oil, and some of the nutritional yeast flakes.
Mix well (use tongs or a big mixing spoon) so that the pesto evenly coats the pasta.
Alternatively, in a separate bowl, mix the pesto with the reserved pasta water to make a pesto sauce.
Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and sprinkle the remaining nutritional yeast.
Garnish with, if using, fresh basil leaves.
Serve warm on its own or with veggies - see notes section below for more details.
Pesto: My pesto recipe is rich and creamy with nuts and olive oil, and it has a spicy kick with garlic, jalapeno, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
You can use any other pesto - arugula, spinach, broccoli - of your choice, but keep in mind that the allergen labels might change depending on the ingredients.
Do you heat pesto before mixing it with the pasta?: No that is not required. Just add the pesto to the pasta while it is still warm. Alternatively, mix the pesto with the pasta cooking water that you had reserved. Mix well. Add this pesto sauce to the warm pasta.
Make it gluten free: Swap the wheat pasta with any gluten free pasta of your choice.
Serving size: These quantities are good enough for 2 very hungry people or 3 not-so-hungry people.
Veggies: The pesto makes this dish supremely delicious and fragrant on its own, but I like to add tomatoes for a lovely contrast of color and a burst of juiciness in my mouth. You can also elevate the dish to new heights by adding sautéed or roasted vegetables such as tender stem broccoli, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, kale or carrots.
Cheese: This recipe has no cheese, as you may have noticed. Instead, I used nutritional yeast flakes for umami flavor. You can add some grated parmesan cheese if you are ok with dairy or use vegan parmesan cheese, if you prefer. Pecorino Romano cheese would also go very well with these flavors.
For more flavor and texture, garnish this simple pesto pasta with toasted pine nuts - whole or chopped up in a food processor - and some fresh lemon juice. The lemon juice adds a lovely zing to the dish.
If you like a deeper pesto flavor, feel free to add 1 or 2 tablespoons more of the pesto.
Serving and Storage
Serve this dish warm for the best taste. The pasta will absorb the moisture and make the dish dry if you keep it for too long.
Storage: This pesto pasta will keep in the refrigerator, in a fridge-safe container with a tight fitting lid, for 2-3 days.
To reheat this dish, transfer it to a microwave-safe container, add a splash of water, and cover it with a plate or kitchen towel. Then, microwave it until it is warm throughout.
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
More quick and easy recipes
I am the self-anointed queen of quick, easy, and hassle-free cooking. If you are looking for delicious recipes that come together in a flash, here are some suggestions:
- Corn and peas salad: This street style zingy salad comes together in just 5 minutes (I am not kidding!) and it tastes so good!
- If you have steamed, boiled or oven roasted beetroot, you can make this easy beetroot raitha in under 10 minutes! You can make this recipe with regular yogurt or a dairy free one.
- This butter mushroom fry with caramalised onions is perfect for weeknight dinners and it takes just 15 minutes to achieve that perfect texture and color!
Pesto pairs wonderfully with a variety of pasta shapes, but some classic choices include linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, or trofie. The long, flat surface of linguine and spaghetti allow the pesto to coat each strand evenly, while the nooks and crannies of shapes like fusilli or penne can trap the sauce for a delightful burst of flavor in every bite. Ultimately, the choice of pasta for pesto comes down to personal preference, with the key being to ensure the pasta is cooked to the desired level of tenderness and mixed thoroughly with the pesto.
Linguine al pesto is a classic Italian pasta dish that features linguine pasta, a type of long, flat pasta, tossed with a vibrant basil pesto sauce. The pesto sauce is typically made from fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and grated Parmesan cheese. However, for a vegan or dairy-free version, nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan can be used as a substitute. The sauce is prepared by blending these ingredients into a creamy, herbaceous paste that coats the linguine noodles. The result is a flavorful and aromatic dish where the pasta is infused with the rich, nutty, and aromatic notes of the pesto, creating a delightful harmony of flavors and textures. It's a beloved Italian classic that celebrates the simplicity and freshness of its ingredients.
Pesto spaghetti has a distinctive and vibrant taste profile. The pesto sauce, typically made from fresh basil, garlic, nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese (or a vegan alternative), imparts a rich, herbaceous, and slightly nutty flavor. The basil provides a fresh, earthy note, while the garlic adds a subtle pungency. The olive oil contributes a smooth richness, and the cheese (or its vegan counterpart) offers a creamy, salty element. When tossed with perfectly cooked spaghetti, the pasta absorbs the pesto's flavors, creating a harmonious blend of savory, aromatic, and slightly tangy notes.
If you have made this pasta al pesto recipe, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! You can also engage with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram xx Padma
Quick and Easy Pasta al Pesto
- 1 rice/pasta pot
- 1 cup/bowl, to store the pasta water
- 1 large bowl for bringing the dish together
- 1 mixing spoon or tongs
- 1 frying pan to roast the tomatoes
- 1 big spoon to turn the tomatoes over
- ¾ cup (150g) dry spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons vegan pesto
- 3 tablespoons reserved pasta water
- 5-6 cherry tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
- fresh basil leaves
- Cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions. Reserve some water and drain the rest of the water.
- While the pasta is cooking, roast the tomatoes: Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. Heat a frying pan on medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and place the halved tomatoes, skin side down and sprinkle salt on them. Fry them for 1-2 minutes. Flip each tomato over and fry for another 1-2 minutes or until they have become slightly squishy and still holding their shape. Remove from heat and keep them aside.5-6 cherry tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt
Assemble the spaghetti al pesto
- Tip the spaghetti, while it is still warm, to a large bowl.¾ cup (150g) dry spaghetti
- Add the pesto, reserved pasta cooking water, remaining olive oil, and some of the nutritional yeast flakes. Mix well so that the pesto evenly coats the pasta. Alternatively, in a separate bowl, mix the pesto with the reserved water to make a pesto sauce. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and sprinkle the remaining nutritional yeast.3 tablespoons vegan pesto, 3 tablespoons reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
- Garnish with, if using, fresh basil leaves.fresh basil leaves
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.