Pesto Pasta is one of those pasta dishes that is so easy to make … and so easy to enjoy!
And when it comes to pesto pasta the difference between a decent pesto pasta and an out of this world pesto pasta is a freshly made pesto.
If you’ve never made pesto at home before, you need to know this. IT IS EASY! It’s also quite forgiving. You can taste test throughout the process and simply add a little more of whatever is missing until it’s exactly to your liking.
Who made pesto pasta first?
Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, which is located in the northern region of Italy. It originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil.
O&CO. Chef Meulien also adds cashew nuts to his Pesto Alla Genovese. The name Pesto originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush. This refers to the way in which the authentic pesto pasta sauce is prepared, with a mortar and pestle.
These days lots of us don’t own a mortar & pestle. Or have the inclination to use it. So our trusty blenders or food processors have taken over.
Apparently we are not meant to ‘crush’ basil leaves. We are meant to grind. To be honest, we’re not quite sure what the difference is!
What do we love about this pesto pasta recipe?
- It’s super fast! In the time it takes to cook a packet of pasta, you can have the entire meal ready.
- It’s very simple. Literally boil the pasta, make the pesto and garnish.
- It’s fresh! You will never get a better pesto pasta than one with a freshly made pesto sauce.
What if you don’t have basil?
This is often the case especially in the middle of winter when basil isn’t growing everywhere. You can still make a beautiful pesto by replacing the basil with rocket/roquette/arugula leaves and baby spinach leaves. Or you might like to use a combination of mint leaves, continental parsley and baby spinach. See what you have on hand and experiment.
And as we’ve said above, you can switch out the pine nuts for cashews if you like. Walnuts could work too – you just want a nut that has no shell and will grind down to a paste.
Is this the best Pesto Pasta Recipe you’ve tried?
Once you’ve tried this recipe, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Did it live up to your expectations? How did it compare to other recipes you’ve tried?
If you really enjoyed this recipe, hit the L❤VE button just under the recipe image. The more L❤VES, the more others will know it’s a recipe worth trying.
Ingredients (serves 6 | makes 1 Family Sized Pasta)
- 2 cups Fresh Basil leaves removed from stalks
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated or shaved)
- 1 clove Fresh Garlic
- 1 cup Baby Peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 packet Linguine (ideally fresh but dried is fine too)
- To Serve:
- Extra Basil Leaves, Parmesan Cheese and Pine Nuts to Garnish
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add a teaspoon of olive oil and the linguine. Stir immediately and then every few minutes to ensure the pasta does not clump together.
- While the pasta is cooking combine the basil leaves, olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts with a 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large mortar and pestle and grind to a fine paste. If you do not have time for this, your food processor or blender is totally fine - just blitz. You can make your pesto as chunky or smooth as you like so just grind accordingly.
- 2 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking to al dente (soft but with a tiny bit of bite remaining) add the peas and allow to come back to the boil. Strain the pasta and peas and rinse with hot water. Drizzle a small amount of olive onto the pasta immediately so it does not stick together.
- Gently stir the pesto through the pasta then transfer to a large serving platter or individual plates. Top with fresh parmesan, a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts and a few basil leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.