Pesto Pasta

Made with fresh cherry tomatoes and a hint of zesty lemon, this pesto pasta recipe is perfect hot from the pan or served chilled as a side dish at any buffet table or BBQ.

Pesto pasta in a pasta bowl

What goes well with pesto pasta?

Whether you’re using a jar of store-bought pesto or making your own homemade version, pesto pasta is a versatile dish. It can be served both hot or cold and is made with a whole range of ingredients to take your pasta to the next level. My go-to ingredient to add is cherry tomatoes. Not only does it add a little color, but it tastes great, served hot, or chilled. I mean, tomatoes and basil are a match made in heaven, is it not? Here’s a list of our top best ingredients that go perfectly with pesto pasta.

Pesto pasta
  • Green peas and green beans: Both add a bit of texture to this dish; steaming your green beans will add a bit of a fresh crunch to your pasta. Both peas and green beans taste great even when served chilled, so perfect if you're planning on serving at an outdoor gathering or BBQ.

  • Red onions:Frying red onions in a frying pan for a few minutes, before adding any other ingredients will add a little a rich but sweet flavor to the pesto pasta, as the natural sugars in the red onions start to release and become slightly caramelized.

  • Mushrooms: Sliced mushrooms cooked in a frying pan with a little butter and crushed garlic add an amazing flavor to this pesto pasta recipe, I find that if you're adding in the mushrooms it tastes better served warm.

  • Olives: Olives can add a salty flavor to this dish, and tastes delicious, served hot or cold.

  • Chicken: Grilled chicken is another favorite; simply grill your chicken cut into bite-size pieces and stir in at the end just before serving, and again tastes great served both hot from the pan or chilled.

  • Chickpeas: If you're not one for eating meat, chickpeas are a great replacement, they soak up the flavors of the basil pesto as they are being cooked and are also a great source of protein.

  • Feta cheese: Using feta cheese will add such amazing flavor to your pesto pasta, giving you a rich, tangy, and ever so slightly salty flavor. This type of cheese goes perfectly with olives.

  • Courgette: Exchange your pasta for courgette, also known as zucchini, depending on where you live in the world. You can spiralize your courgette using a spiralizer, so it resembles spaghetti, fry in the frying pan for a few minutes to take the crunch away and you have yourself a pesto dish with a twist.

  • Parmesan cheese: Most pesto sauces already contain Parmesan cheese but adding a little more gives this dish an extra boost of flavor, the cheese also acts as a thickener taking your pesto pasta texture to a new level.

How to cook pasta?

First Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and add a little salt. The salt will not only season your pasta but allow it to boil to a hotter temperature, which means your pasta will ultimately cook faster and taste better. Next, add in your chosen pasta, whether it’s spaghetti or penne pasta or anything in between, it will normally take around 10 to 12 minutes if using dried pasta, or if you’re using fresh pasta it will take about 2 minutes. But best practice is to check your dried pasta at around 8 minutes of cooking, to do this remove a piece of pasta from the pot and place it onto a spoon for a few seconds, then taste it to see if it’s done to your liking. Some people prefer their pasta al dente, while others prefer their pasta a little softer. Once cooked to your liking, remove from the heat and strain straight away. Mix in your chosen sauce and serve, it’s that simple.

Best Types Of Pasta To Use For Pesto

Supermarket shelves are lined with pasta in all shapes and sizes. Deciding which type of pasta to choose and which one is best for your pesto pasta dinner can be very difficult. You might think that all pasta is the same. I mean, they’re all made with the same ingredients, right? That’s true, most types of pasta you buy at the grocery store are made with the same ingredients, flour, water, and sometimes eggs. The really big difference lies in the shape and size of the pasta, which makes it perfect for different types of cooking and serves different purposes. For example, the thickness of the sauce depends on which pasta shape works best. With over 600 different pasta shapes, it’s no wonder people are overwhelmed trying to decide which pasta to buy. To make it easier for you to choose the right type of pasta for your pesto sauce, we’ve put together a short list of favorite pastas to choose from.

Pesto pasta ingredients
  • Spaghetti: Spaghetti is by far the most popular of all pasta. You can find it in most supermarkets around the world. To be honest, I'd be shocked if I didn't find a spaghetti package at my local store. Spaghetti is pretty versatile. Its long, thin strands pair well with tomato-based marinara sauces, ground beef and vegetable Ragu sauces, seafood sauces, and delicious pestos.

  • Fusilli: Fusilli is a flat pasta twisted into a small spring-like shape. This type of pasta pairs well with oil-based sauces such as pesto and salad dressings. The curve of pasta pieces holds oil-based sauces well, as sauces tend to get trapped in the small groves. This means that every bite of pasta is full of flavor.

  • Penne: The word “penne” translates to the English word “pen”, its round shape and pointed edges were said to be inspired by the quill. Penne pasta pairs well with most sauces but are perfect for chunky vegetable and meaty bolognese. The tubes catch and carry the thick sauces guaranteeing flavor in every mouthful.

  • Farfalle: Farfalle has to be one of the most beautiful forms of pasta. The Italian word "farfalle" means "butterfly", but is more commonly called bow tie pasta. To make homemade farfalle pasta, simply roll out your pasta dough, cut it into small rectangles, and pinch the centers together to create a bow tie shape. This type of pasta pairs well with thick, cheesy, and rich ragu sauces as the flat surface of the bow ties holds the sauces perfectly.

  • Conchiglie: Conchiglie pronounced Con-KEEL-yay, is a shell-shaped pasta. Its conch shell shape makes for a wonderful all-purpose pasta, that can be baked in casseroles, boiled and topped with your favorite sauces, used in salads, and is also a perfect accompaniment to hearty homemade soups. The seashell-shaped pasta also comes in two other sizes the large size is called conchiglioni and is usually stuffed with meat or cheese, and the smallest size is called conchigliette, which you'll normally use in soups or broths.

How Many Calories In Pasta?

Most kinds of pasta are made from the same ingredients flour, water, and sometimes eggs. The exact amount of calories will depend on the type of pasta you’re using for your recipe. Typically 100g of cooked pasta is between 120 and 200 calories.

Does pesto pasta leftovers need to be refrigerated?

If you’re lucky enough to have leftover pesto pasta to enjoy another day, it’s best to store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You can enjoy it chilled from the fridge or reheat it over the hob. Pesto pasta is an excellent addition to any lunchbox or summer picnic too.

Can you freeze pesto?

If you have made a batch of pesto and have some leftover, you can freeze it, I found the best and easiest way to freeze pesto is in ice cube trays. Simply fill an ice cube tray and place in to your freezer for a few hours. Once frozen remove the pesto cubes and place them into a resealable freezer bag. When you want to add a pop of flavor to a dish, simply add a cube of frozen pesto and cook over the hob. If you have to freeze a large amount of pesto, add it to a Pyrex container with a lid, they come in lots of different sizes, so choose one that is best suited to the amount you want to freeze. Once you have your pesto in your container, add a thin layer of olive oil over the surface and place the lid on tightly and place it into your freezer. Adding the oil to the surface when freezing larger batches prevents browning that may occur during the freezing process. You can store frozen pesto for up to six months in the freezer.

Pesto pasta

Pesto Pasta

Love Food Feed
This creamy pesto pasta recipe couldn't be easier to make; it's a quick, simple, and family-friendly dish that everyone will love to eat again and again.
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 548 kcal



  • First Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and add a little salt. once boiled add in your Farfalle pasta and boil for around 10 to 12 minutes.
    1 Pinch Salt
    Pesto pasta instruction
  • While the pasta is cooking, chop your tomatoes and a few sprigs of fresh basil. Into a frying pan, add your olive oil, pesto sauce, juice of half a lemon, and cherry tomatoes, and cook over low heat stirring occasionally throughout the cooking process, so the ingredients don't stick to the pan.
    250 g Homemade basil pesto, 1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, ½ Lemon
    Pesto pasta instruction
  • Once the pasta has finished cooking, scoop ½ a cup of pasta water and add it to the pesto in the frying pan then remove the pasta from the heat and strain.
    Pesto pasta instruction
  • Now add the pasta to the pesto and tomatoes and mix them together until well combined.
    Pesto pasta instruction
  • Lastly, place your pesto pasta into serving dishes, garnish with fresh basil, and enjoy.
    Pesto pasta


Tips & Tricks
If you can store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Always add salt to the water; the salt will not only season your pasta but allow it to boil to a hotter temperature, which means your pasta will ultimately cook faster and taste better.
Before you drain your pasta, save a cup of the cooking water and reserve it for your sauce.


Calories: 548kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 12gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 1683mgPotassium: 348mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 2251IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 143mgIron: 3mg
Keyword BBQ side dish, comfort food, easy recipe, farfalle dried pasta, farfalle pasta, italian recieps, pasta, pasta recipe, pesto pasta, quick and easy
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If you love pasta dishes as much as we do, why not check out some of Love Food Feeds other recipes, our pumpkin pasta is made with homemade pumpkin puree, and mascarpone, making it deliciously creamy and moreish.

Pumpkin Pasta in a bowl with Parmesan cheese and rocket

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