//Pesto Pasta | Basil Pesto Pasta

Pesto Pasta | Basil Pesto Pasta

pesto pasta recipepesto pasta recipe

This Pesto Pasta Recipe will show you how to make a delicious pasta with homemade basil pesto sauce from scratch. Even though this recipe is for pesto pasta, but you can use this flavorful pesto sauce on pizza, toast or as a spread on your favorite veggie sandwich or even grilled cheese.

pesto pasta served in a white bowl topped with some grated parmesan on a dark brown wooden traypesto pasta served in a white bowl topped with some grated parmesan on a dark brown wooden tray

About the Recipe

Pesto sauce is one of my favorite green sauces and this simple, homemade version is delicious. I love making homemade pesto to use on pasta and pizza as it is so much more fresh and flavorful than store-bought pesto sauce. 

This vegetarian recipe includes fresh basil leaves, garlic, almonds and parmesan cheese. For a vegan version, simply skip the parmesan cheese garnish.

Making pesto sauce from scratch may seem like a lot of work, but it is actually quite simple. This recipe will show you how to lightly roast the almonds to bring out the flavor before grinding them.

It will also go over how to crush the basil leaves while adding just the right amount of oil for the perfect sauce consistency.

Follow the steps below and you will have a tasty homemade pesto sauce for a nice flavorful pasta dish your whole family will enjoy.

Ingredients you need

  1. Almonds: Typically pesto sauce is made with pine nuts, however in this recipe I have replaced pine nuts with almonds. You can also use cashews or pistachios instead of pine nuts. 
  2. Basil: Fresh basil is one of the most important ingredient that gives a lovely herby aroma and flavor to the sauce.
  3. No parmesan cheese in the sauce: Pesto also usually has parmesan cheese mixed into the sauce, but I added it as a garnish on the pesto pasta instead. This means it can be left off for a dairy-free dish and also means the sauce itself is dairy-free and so can be used in any of your vegan dishes.
  4. Pasta: You can use pasta like fusilli, spaghetti, farfalle or macaroni to make this recipe. I used a mix of fusilli pasta and macaroni pasta. For a healthier dish, use whole wheat pasta if possible.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Pesto Pasta

To prepare pesto sauce:

1. Heat a pan and add ⅛ cup almonds to it.

almonds added in a skillet for roastingalmonds added in a skillet for roasting

2. Keep the flame low and roast the almonds lightly stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lightly roasted almonds from the pan and place them on a separate plate or tray and let them cool.

almonds lightly roasted almonds lightly roasted

3. Once the almonds have cooled down, put them in a food processor, or food chopper or a small to medium grinder jar. I used a food chopper.

lightly roasted almonds added in food chopperlightly roasted almonds added in food chopper

4. Crush them coarsely.

almonds being crushed in the food chopperalmonds being crushed in the food chopper

5. Rinse 1 cup (25 grams) of basil leaves. Then place leaves in a colander or strainer to dry naturally or you can use a salad spinner to dry them quicker. Add the dried basil leaves to the food chopper. Also add 1 small to medium garlic cloves. Optionally you can also add 2 to 3 whole black peppers. Season with a light pinch of salt or add as per taste. 

fresh basil leaves, garlic and salt added in the food chopperfresh basil leaves, garlic and salt added in the food chopper

6. Begin to crush the leaves while adding olive oil in parts from the top. Overall add 2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. You can also add olive oil directly to the jar. If adding extra virgin olive oil directly to the jar, then add in parts and blend.

extra virgin olive oil being added in partsextra virgin olive oil being added in parts

7. Blend to a semi fine or fine consistency. It’s your choice. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice to preserve the green color.

pesto sauce blended in the food chopperpesto sauce blended in the food chopper

8. Use a spatula to remove the pesto from the sides and bottom of the food processor, food chopper or grinder jar. Place it in a mixing bowl or pan. Cover and set aside. 

basil pesto sauce taken in a bowlbasil pesto sauce taken in a bowl

Making pesto pasta

8. Bring 4 cups water to a boil on a medium to high flame. Add ⅓ teaspoon salt or as required to the water.

boiling water with salt for pasta in a steel panboiling water with salt for pasta in a steel pan

9. When the water comes to a boil, then add 1 cup fusilli or macaroni pasta (100 grams).

pasta added in the boiling waterpasta added in the boiling water

10. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Or, if you prefer, cook pasta until it is completely done. With a slotted spoon, remove the pasta from the pan. Drain it very well.

pasta cooked and being removed with a strainerpasta cooked and being removed with a strainer

11. Add it to the bowl containing the pesto sauce.

cooked pasta added to the bowl containing the basil pesto saucecooked pasta added to the bowl containing the basil pesto sauce

12. Mix very well. If you want you can add some lemon juice, or black pepper powder or extra virgin olive oil at this point.

pasta mixed with the pesto saucepasta mixed with the pesto sauce

14. Serve pesto pasta garnished with some vegetarian parmesan cheese. You can also garnish with cheddar cheese or vegan cheese. Garnish is optional. Pesto pasta can be served warm or at room temperature.

pesto pasta served in a white bowl topped with some grated parmesan on a dark brown wooden tray with a background of potted fresh green basil leavespesto pasta served in a white bowl topped with some grated parmesan on a dark brown wooden tray with a background of potted fresh green basil leaves

Tips

Tips & Variations

  • Freshness of Basil: Use fresh basil in the recipe. Avoid dry or wilted leaves.
  • Nuts: You could replace almonds with pine nuts, walnuts, cashews or pistachios.
  • Scaling: This pesto recipe is for 1 cup of pasta, but you can easily double or triple the sauce recipe to have it for a larger serving of pasta or pizzas, or just to have in the fridge for when you need to add some extra flavor to your sandwich or toast. 
  • Adding Vegetables: If you are looking for added nutrition or a heartier dish, feel free to add some mixed veggies to the pasta and sauce. Simply steam or boil some vegetables and toss them with the finished pasta and sauce. Or sauté some onions and veggies and then add the pasta and pesto and mix together until everything is coated with the sauce.

More Delicious Pasta Recipes

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Pesto Pasta is a delicious, easy recipe made with cooked pasta and a homemade green pesto sauce.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins


Cuisine Italian, World

Course: Brunch, Snacks

Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

Difficulty Level: Easy


Servings 1

Units

for the basil pesto sauce

to prepare basil pesto sauce

  • Heat a pan and add ⅛ cup almonds on it.

  • Keep the flame to a low and roast the almonds lightly stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lightly roasted almonds in a separate plate or tray and let them cool.

  • Once the almonds cool down, add them in a food processor or food chopper or a small to medium grinder jar.

  • Crush them coarsely.

  • Add 1 cup basil leaves (25 grams) which has been rinsed first and then dried naturally. Also add 1 small to medium garlic cloves. Optionally you can also add 2 to 3 whole black peppers. Season with a light pinch of salt or add as per taste. The basil leaves can be kept in a colander or strainer and then dried naturally or you can use a salad spinner to dry the leaves.

  • Begin to crush the leaves and from top add olive oil in parts. Overall add 2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. You can also add olive oil directly in the jar. If adding extra virgin olive oil directly in the jar, then add in parts and blend.

  • Grind to a semi fine or fine consistency. Its your choice. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice to preserve green colour.

  • Remove the pesto in a mixing bowl or pan. Use a spatula to remove the pesto from the sides and bottom of the food processor, food chopper or grinder jar. Cover and keep aside. If using ready pesto, then add 5 to 6 tablespoons of it in the cooked pasta.

making pesto pasta

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil on a medium to high flame. Also add ⅓ teaspoon salt or add as required to the water.

  • When the water comes to a boil, then add 1 cup pasta (100 grams).

  • Cook the pasta till they are al dente. Depending on your taste preferences, you can even cook them till they are completely done. 

  • With a slotted spoon take the pasta from the pan. Drain it very well.

  • Add it to the bowl containing the pesto sauce.

  • Mix very well. If you want you can add some lemon juice or black pepper powder or extra virgin olive oil.

  • Serve pesto pasta garnished with some vegetarian parmesan cheese. Garnish is optional.

  • Basil: Use fresh basil in the recipe and avoid dry or wilted leaves. Basil can be substituted with some mint leaves or a mix of mint and cilantro. 
  • Nuts: Replace almonds with pine nuts, walnuts, cashews or pistachios.
  • Scaling: This pesto recipe is for 1 cup of dried pasta, but you can easily double or triple the sauce recipe and have it for a larger serving of pasta or pizzas, or just to have in the fridge for when you need to add some extra flavor to your sandwich or toast. 
  • Adding Vegetables: For added nutrition, feel free to add some mixed veggies to the pasta and sauce. Simply steam or boil or roast some vegetables and toss them with the finished pasta and sauce. 

Calories: 481kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 8gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 2147mgPotassium: 1008mgFiber: 6gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 2327IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 3mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin C: 22mgVitamin E: 13mgVitamin K: 127µgCalcium: 150mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 52µgIron: 4mgMagnesium: 112mgPhosphorus: 164mgZinc: 1mg

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This recipe post from the archives (December 2016) has been republished and updated on 11 September 2020.