An easy and very delicious recipe awaits you, Pasta Pesto! Another wonderful Italian recipe that uses minimal ingredients and is packed with flavor. It also makes a great quick family dinner that's suitable for the whole family.
What type of pasta is best for pasta pesto? Any pasta works, that's the short answer. Here I am using a few types of pasta. Will that effect the cooking time? Probably, but not by that much to make me sort through it. We keep an extra large bowl of bits and pieces of left over pasta for quick and easy dishes like this. The pasta is 'al dente' (to the tooth) and as long as it has a bite to it, you're winning!
The beauty in this recipe is that you can use homemade basil pesto (because it's the best) or you can use store-bought. Should you decide to go with store bought, then please use a really good quality basil pesto or you might not understand what the 'craze' is all about. Some store bought brands are definitely on the sid eof 'err'.
Since basil pesto and pasta are the only key ingredients in this recipe then you have to use the best ingredients. That's where your flavor will come from, unlike when you have 6 or 7 or more ingredients, the flavors have more ingredients to pull from.
We don't have enough pasta recipes on this blog to match the amount of pasta we actually eat at home, we are a pasta family for sure. The most popular pasta to cook for pesto is spaghetti although you can use any pasta type. I like to keep my past in jars and I have a special jar that is a mix of pasta types. In this recipe today I used out of that jar.
There's a mix of penne, farfalle (bowtie), orecchiette and mezze pasta (small pasta). Yes they all cook at different times but it's not that drastic, it's a difference of 2 minutes maybe and they don't taste under or overcooked at all. Just let them cook until you can bite into the pasta that's why it's called 'al dente' because it should still have some bite left in it. While it cooks, taste the largest one (it will cook the longest) in this case the farfalle took about a minute or 2 longer than the rest. I let it cook until the farfalle had that al dente bite and drained it.
How to Make Pasta Pesto
As we know by now, this recipe is easy and here's what you have to:
Pesto: Make the pesto first or use a good quality store bought.
Pasta: Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.
Pasta water: Before draining the pasta, make sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
Combine: Add your cooked pasta to a clean bowl. You can use any bowl as long as you are not using the pot to mix the pasta and pesto. Although you can do that, it's best to wait for the pasta to cool down before adding the pesto, this helps it from losing its vibrant green color.
Finish touch: Make sure the basila and pesto is well combined and you can now use a little of the pasta water to help emulsify the pesto and pasta together. Again, go slowly with adding the reserved pasta water, you can add gradually or as needed. The pasta does absorb the liquid quite quickly but it's best to add gradually.
Serve: Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil if you want.
These are some of the invaluable tips that I learnt from my mother in law and I do hold them close and somehow, seem to automatically remember them! Here you go:
Pasta water: Yes pasta water is king however, don't be in a hurry to scoop the water out before it has had time to boil with the pasta. After all, its the starchy water that we want and that only happens towards the end of the pasta cooking time.
Transfer the pasta not drain: She never drained the pasta unless the water was not needed, so the pasta would go directly into the sauce that you were cooking from the pasta pot with drops of water coming with the pasta.
More Pasta Recipes
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Basil Pesto Recipe
- Tomato Basil Pesto Tart, Exceptional
- Caprese Bruschetta
- Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
- Italian Summer Salad
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- ½ cup Homemade Basil Pesto Recipe
- 250/300 grams spaghetti pasta reserve 1 cup of pasta water
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese grated
- fresh basil leaves for serving
- Bring the water to boil, add salt and cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Reserve about a cup of the water when draining.
- In a clean bowl, add the cooked pasta, reserved pasta water and the pesto. Mix well adding less or more water depending on how you like it.IMPORTANT: Don't add the pesto to the pasta in a hot pot or stove it may change from a vibrant green to a dark almost black color and lose it's flavor. Rather add the pesto to the pasta when it's off the stove and cooled down or use a separate bowl to mix. You can always add a drop of pasta water if your pasta is not as loose but too much pasta water will also affect the vibrant color of the pesto so a dash at a time of pasta water.
- Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil.Enjoy!