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side close up shot of basil pesto pasta in a white pan
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5 from 2 votes

Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe

This is a delicious, vegetarian pasta recipe packed with the flavor of fresh basil and walnut pesto. Learn how to make pesto pasta at home in a few simple steps.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 542kcal
Author: Hina Gujral

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Saucepan

Ingredients

Ingredients For Cooking Pasta:

  • 200 gram penne pasta (approx 2 Cups)
  • 6 Cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Ingredients For Basil Pesto:

  • 2 Cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 - 6 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup cherry tomato, cut into halves
  • 2 - 4 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts

Instructions

Cook Pasta:

  • Boil water in a saucepan with salt. Add the desired shape of pasta and cook till al-dente. Reserve 1 cup of boiled pasta water. Drain the remaining water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Make Basil Pesto:

  • While the pasta is cooking, start making pesto sauce.
    making basil pesto sauce in a food processor
  • Add all the pesto ingredients except olive oil in a food processor with the blade attachment. Seal the lid of the food processor. Start blending the ingredients while slowly and steadily pouring the olive oil. You may need to stop. scrape, and again blend the ingredients. But do not blend more than 1 minute.
    making basil pesto sauce in a food processor
  • Store pesto sauce in an airtight conatiner in the refrigerator or use it immediately.

Assemble:

  • Transfer cooked pasta to a mixing bowl. Add pesto sauce, cherry tomato, cream, and 1/4 cup of reserved boiled pasta water. Toss to evenly coat pasta with the sauce. The sauce should cling to the pasta.
  • If the pasta dries up or soak the sauce, add 1/4 cup remaining boiled pasta water and toss once again.
  • Garnish basil pesto pasta with chopped walnut and cheese.
  • Serve Basil Pesto Pasta immediately with focaccia bread.

Notes

  • Pesto Sauce is not meant for robust cooking. Combine pesto sauce while the pasta is hot in a mixing bowl and not on the stovetop.
  • Pesto turns black when exposed to air for a longer duration due to oxidation.
  • Do not blend the pesto sauce for too long in the food processor as it might turn bitter.
  • Feel free to pick pasta of your choice to coat in the green pesto sauce. My personal favorites are either spaghetti (long noodle shape) or penne (the tubular shape)
  • To make the pesto pasta saucy and juicy use the boiled pasta water. 
  • Adding heavy cream is optional. It makes pesto pasta creamy and rich.

Nutrition

Calories: 542kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 1875mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1200IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 2mg