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A white bowl filled with pesto pasta next to a grey napkin, two forks, and glass of white wine.

Pesto Pasta

Course: First course, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: authentic pesto, easy pesto recipe, fresh pesto sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 505kcal
Pesto Pasta is a true Italian classic. This dish is just so fresh, and amazing in it's simplicity. It really is incredibly good. One of our favorites. Serve it warm as a main dish, or use a smaller pasta and serve it at room temperature for an amazing pasta salad.
Print Recipe


  • Food processor


  • 10 cups basil fresh
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese plus a little more for finishing off the dish
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts aka pignolis
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus a little more for finishing off the dish
  • ½ Kosher salt plus more for boiling water
  • 1 lb pasta uncooked, such as bucatini, spaghetti, or penne.


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, place a colander in a large bowl of water, and then add ice. Working in 2 batches, blanch the basil in the boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds. Immediately transfser blanched basil to the ice bath.
  • Set aside ½ cup of the hot water and reserve the pot containing the blanching water.
  • Lift colander from ice water and squeeze out the excess water from the basil; transfer to paper towels and pat dry.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, pulse blanched basil, ½ cup Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper in a food processor until well combined. Adding a couple of tablespoons of water and pulse for another 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Transfer basil mixture to a medium bowl and stir in ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Spoon ½ cup pesto and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid into a large bowl. Transfer cooked pasta to the bowl and use wooden spoons or tongs to toss, adding the remaining pesto and another tbsp of cheese, until pasta is nicely coated.
  • Divide among bowls and top with cheese and a drizzle of oil.



Once you've finished blanching the basil, and transferred it to an ice bath, go ahead and your pasta cooking.  Boil it in the same water that you blanched the spinach in.  Remember to save about a cup of the pasta/spinach water.  
Be careful not to add too much salt to the pesto.  Hopefully, you have liberally salted your pasta water, so when you add some water to the sauce, you'll also be adding salt. Do a taste test and add more salt, if needed. 
We love serving this with long pasta, such as bucatini, spaghetti, or linguine.  However, this also makes a wonderful pasta salad served at room temperature.  If you're doing that, we recommend going with short pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or elbow. 
The pesto sauce and easily be made up to several days in advance and then gently reheated on the stove. 
Pesto sauce keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and freezes well for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2175IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 3mg