Radish Leaf Pesto

Last spring feels like quite a while ago, when I (and we) were all wondering about our food supplies running out, rediscovering things in our jumbled pantries and packed-to-the-gills freezers, and also being a lot more conscious of food waste. On the other hand, it’s hard to use everything up. But I did my best. I’m the kind of person who finds a 1-inch (3cm)…

Last spring feels like quite a while ago, when I (and we) were all wondering about our food supplies running out, rediscovering things in our jumbled pantries and packed-to-the-gills freezers, and also being a lot more conscious of food waste. On the other hand, it’s hard to use everything up. But I did my best.

I’m the kind of person who finds a 1-inch (3cm) cube of pesto lurking in the back of the freezer, then goes out and spend time at the market shopping for the vegetables, then comes home to wash and chop them up, while the beans are soaking to make soupe au pistou. Then I realize I forgot to buy more basil because I only have a little cube of pesto (or more accurately, pistou) and it’s not enough, so I head back out to buy more basil, cooling my heels in line behind madame, who is requesting that the vendor show her each oignon and carotte for careful examination before she buys it. When all is said and done, and the soup has been served that evening, I find myself with a little bit of leftover pesto when all is said and done, which goes back into the freezer. And the cycle begins again.

Continue Reading Radish Leaf Pesto...

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

I’ve been experimenting with shrimp a lot lately. Yes, it can be a little on the expensive side, but if you pair it whith an inexpensive ingredient like pasta, you can really stretch that dollar and work it into an affordable meal. This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is an incredibly easy (and FAST) recipe that will […]

The post Pesto Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve been experimenting with shrimp a lot lately. Yes, it can be a little on the expensive side, but if you pair it whith an inexpensive ingredient like pasta, you can really stretch that dollar and work it into an affordable meal. This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is an incredibly easy (and FAST) recipe that will make you feel like you’re eating a restaurant quality meal at home. So even if shrimp is just a once in a while special occasion splurge, you’ll still be saving a TON by making this splurge at home instead of having it at a restaurant!

Originally posted 12-28-2010, updated 8-27-2020.

Overhead view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a black fork in the middle

This recipe was originally posted in 2010. When updating this recipe I made only minor changes to the recipe yield, ingredient quantities, and preparation method. If you prefer the old recipe, you can reach out to us at support@budgetbytes.com and we can send you a pdf of the old version.

What Kind of Shrimp is Best for Pesto Shrimp Pasta

A smaller sized shrimp works best for this recipe so you get more shrimp pieces throughout the pasta. If you check your package of shrimp you’ll see a number range specifying the number of shrimp per pound. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp (more shrimp per pound). The shrimp I used were 41-60 size, or 41-60 shrimp per pound.

You can purchase your shrimp with or without the shell and tail, but you’ll want to remove the shell and tail before cooking. You can leave the tail on, but I find that tail-on shrimp is more difficult to eat in a dish like pasta because you have to stop and remove the tail with every bite.

This recipe is written for raw (frozen or fresh) shrimp, but you can use pre-cooked shrimp if that’s what you have available. To use pre-cooked shrimp, simply add them into the pasta at the end.

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp

If you know you’ll be making this recipe a head of time, you can transfer your shrimp from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. If you didn’t plan ahead, don’t worry! Shrimp thaws very quickly under running water. I just place my shrimp in a colander and run cool water over the shrimp for a few minutes until it has thawed. Once thawed and peeled, make sure to dab the shrimp dry with paper towel.

Can I Substitute the Shrimp?

If you’re not into shrimp, this recipe would also be good using diced chicken, sea scallops, or even chopped artichoke hearts! 

Tips for Cooking Shrimp

Shrimp can be intimidating for people who have never cooked it before, but I promise it’s very easy! The trick is that shrimp cooks very quickly and if you continue to cook it longer than necessary, the proteins will continue to contract leaving you with tough, rubbery shrimp. So watch your shrimp closely and remove them from the skillet just as soon as they turn pink and opaque. It only takes a few minutes (depending on the shrimp’s size and the heat level under the skillet)!

What Kind of Pesto to Use

Pesto is another ingredient that can be pricy if you don’t shop around. I used pesto from ALDI, which is very affordable, but if you don’t have an ALDI store near you check to see if your grocery store has their own store brand, or look for Classico or Barilla brand pesto, which usually tends to be a bit more affordable. I used basil pesto for this pasta, but I bet it would also be great with other flavors!

Overhead view of the skillet full of pesto shrimp pasta

 
Overhead view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a black fork in the center

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

This Pesto Shrimp Pasta is a restaurant quality meal that you can make in under 30 minutes! The perfect quick weeknight meal.
Total Cost $8.07 recipe / $2.02 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 446.23kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined $4.99
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta $0.53
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided $0.24
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.49
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $0.55
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.11

Instructions

  • If using frozen shrimp, place them in a colander and run cool water over top to thaw (this should only take a few minutes). Peel the shrimp and remove the tails. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about seven minutes). Reserve about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the dish. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the prepared shrimp and sauté just until the shrimp turns pink and opaque (2-3 minutes). Remove the cooked shrimp to a clean bowl.
  • Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and add the grape tomatoes and minced garlic. Continue to sauté over medium until the tomatoes begin to burst and release their juices. If the garlic begins to brown before the tomatoes have burst, add a couple tablespoons of water to the skillet to slow the browning.
  • Once the tomatoes have broken down in the skillet, add the cooked and drained pasta, ¼ cup pesto, and about half of the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat everything in the pesto, adding more of the pasta water if needed to loosen the pasta and spread the pesto over everything.
  • Finally, return the cooked shrimp to the skillet and stir to combine with the pasta. Top with grated Parmesan, then serve!

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 446.23kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.3g | Protein: 26.4g | Fat: 15.58g | Sodium: 602.68mg | Fiber: 3.78g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Try These Other Budget-Friendly Shrimp Recipes:

Front view of a bowl full of pesto shrimp pasta with a fork twirling the pasta in the center

How to Make Pesto Shrimp Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Shrimp Package

This is the shrimp I used. 41-60 size (that means 41-60 shrimp per pound) and this is a 12oz. bag. To thaw the shrimp I placed them in a colander and ran cool water over them for a few minutes, or until they were thawed enough to peel and remove the tails. Once thawed, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove the excess water.

A measuring cup scooping out starchy pasta water from the pot

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add ½ lb. angel hair pasta to the pot and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7 minutes). Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining in a colander. You can begin cooking the shrimp while the pasta boils.

Cooked shrimp in a skillet

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once the skillet and oil are hot, add the shrimp and sauté just until they are pink and opaque (2-3 minutes), then remove them from the skillet to a clean bowl. Make sure not to over cook them!

Grape tomatoes and garlic in the skillet

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the pint of grape tomatoes and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté the garlic and tomatoes over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to burst and break down.

Cooked grape tomatoes

If the tomatoes are not very ripe they may take a while to burst, so if your garlic begins to brown before the tomatoes start releasing their juices, you can add a couple tablespoons of water to the skillet to prevent the garlic from browning. The juices from the tomatoes will create a sweet jam-like sauce on the bottom of the skillet.

Cooked pasta and pesto added to the skillet with tomatoes and garlic

Once the tomatoes are at least half way broken down, add the cooked and drained pasta, ¼ cup pesto, and about half of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Stir to coat everything in the pesto, adding more of the starchy pasta water if needed to loosen things up and help the pesto spread.

Cooked shrimp added to the pasta

Finally, return the cooked shrimp back to the skillet and stir to combine with the pasta and pesto.

finished pesto shrimp pasta in the skillet

I like to add just a little (about 1 Tbsp) grated Parmesan on top, and you can add some chopped parsley for color if you’d like (it’s not necessary for the flavor).

Overhead view of a finished bowl of pesto shrimp pasta with a fork on the side

Enjoy! (A little extra freshly cracked pepper on top doesn’t hurt, and if you’re into spicy try adding a pinch of crushed red pepper!)

The post Pesto Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Burrata with Tomatoes & Pesto

Serve Burrata with Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, and Garlic toasts at your next summer party! This simple summer appetizer is always a crowd pleaser! I love summer entertaining and Burrata with Tomatoes & Pesto with garlic toasts is one of my favorite app…

Serve Burrata with Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, and Garlic toasts at your next summer party! This simple summer appetizer is always a crowd pleaser! I love summer entertaining and Burrata with Tomatoes & Pesto with garlic toasts is one of my favorite appetizers to serve to friends and family. It is simple to put together and…

The post Burrata with Tomatoes & Pesto appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Pesto Salmon

Bright green basil pesto is a natural fit with baked fish! This pesto salmon is an easy weeknight meal that also works to impress guests. Ready for the perfect zingy sauce to add life to baked salmon? Try this pesto salmon! Bright green pesto goes hand in hand with tender baked fish to make a stunning dinner. Because really: what isn’t better with a little pesto on top? It’s mid-summer here and we’re making all the pesto with our overactive basil plant. The savory, garlicky sauce makes the flaky fish pop: you’ll already be taking your second bite before finishing the first. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to guests. This one went over very well in our house. Here’s what to know! Use homemade pesto if you can…but purchased works This pesto salmon is best with…you guessed it, homemade pesto! Now, we know it’s not always that you have access to loads of fresh basil. But the flavor of freshly made basil pesto is so good, you’ll want to make it if at all possible. Here are a few things to know: Make a half recipe of our basil pesto. This way, you don’t […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Bright green basil pesto is a natural fit with baked fish! This pesto salmon is an easy weeknight meal that also works to impress guests.

Pesto salmon

Ready for the perfect zingy sauce to add life to baked salmon? Try this pesto salmon! Bright green pesto goes hand in hand with tender baked fish to make a stunning dinner. Because really: what isn’t better with a little pesto on top? It’s mid-summer here and we’re making all the pesto with our overactive basil plant. The savory, garlicky sauce makes the flaky fish pop: you’ll already be taking your second bite before finishing the first. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to guests. This one went over very well in our house. Here’s what to know!

Use homemade pesto if you can…but purchased works

This pesto salmon is best with…you guessed it, homemade pesto! Now, we know it’s not always that you have access to loads of fresh basil. But the flavor of freshly made basil pesto is so good, you’ll want to make it if at all possible. Here are a few things to know:

  • Make a half recipe of our basil pesto. This way, you don’t need as much basil: just 1 cup of basil leaves.
  • You can use cashews or walnuts. Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, but they can be expensive or hard to find. Using other nuts works too! Our favorite is cashew pesto, or try this walnut pesto.
  • Or, find the best quality purchased brand. Here’s the thing about storebought pesto: the quality varies widely. Some pestos taste flat and dull, some are overly salty. So experiment until you find one you love!

Tip for baked pesto salmon: brine it first!

Here’s a little trick we’ve used to great success. Brine your salmon before baking! What’s brining? Brining is letting your salmon sit in a brine solution before baking. This makes for perfectly moist salmon, and it helps the salmon come to room temperature which makes it cook more evenly. It also cuts down on the white stuff (see below). Even better: it doesn’t take any extra time! You can do it while the oven preheats. Here’s how to brine salmon:

  • Mix up a salt water solution. In a large dish, stir 4 cups of water with 3 tablespoons salt to make a salt water solution.
  • Place the fish in the water for 15 minutes. You can do this in the time it takes to preheat your oven: so there’s no time lost!

What’s the white stuff on cooked salmon?

What’s that gooey white stuff that sometimes appears on the surface of the fish after it’s cooked? Good news: it’s perfectly normal! The white stuff is coagulated protein that seeps to the surface while baking, called albumin. The amount of albumin varies greatly depending on the fish, so it’s not something you can control. (Read more here.) It’s safe to eat, but it does look less than appetizing on top of a beautiful fillet. Here are a few ways to reduce the albumin when you cook salmon:

  • Cook it at a lower temperature to cook it more gently (325 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Brine the salmon in a salt and water solution before baking
Pesto salmon

How to garnish pesto salmon

The presentation is the fun part, right? This pesto salmon looks just lovely on a plate. Here’s what to know about the presentation:

  • Add the pesto after baking. This keeps it beautifully moist and bright green.
  • Add chopped and toasted pine nuts as a garnish. These look lovely, and they have a unique flavor. Make sure to toast the pine nuts before using them: it accentuates the flavor in a way where you’ll taste the difference.
  • Lemon zest adds brightness. Zest helps brighten the flavors; you’ll already have a lemon onhand if you make homemade pesto. If using storebought pesto, it can be a nice way to revive the flavors.

Buying sustainable salmon

Want to buy the most sustainable fish you can? Here are a few pointers when you’re looking at salmon at the grocery store:

  • Look for wild-caught fish if possible. Wild-caught fish is more sustainable than farmed.
  • Find US caught (if you’re in the US). 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.
Pesto salmon

Sides to serve with pesto salmon

This pesto salmon makes an easy, healthy dinner recipe: great for weeknights in and when you’re entertaining guests! How to make it into a meal? Because you’ll have the oven occupied for the salmon, here are a few ideas for side dishes that are oven-free:

This pesto recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian. For dairy free, use Vegan Pesto.

Print
Pesto salmon

Easy Pesto Salmon


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Bright green basil pesto is a natural fit with baked fish! This pesto salmon is an easy weeknight meal that also works to impress guests.


Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets or a large 1 1/2 pound fillet, wild caught if possible
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for brining
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade preferable)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and chopped pine nuts
  • A few grates of lemon zest, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brine the salmon: While the oven preheats, in a shallow dish stir together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until it dissolves. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes (this should be about the time it takes to preheat).
  3. Bake: Rub the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Pat each piece of salmon dry and place it on the pan. Sprinkle the salmon with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt for each of the 4 fillets and fresh ground pepper. Cover pan with foil and bake the salmon for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil bake again for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the center). A 1-inch thick fillet should cook in about 15 minutes total.
  4. Serve: When the salmon is done, spoon the pesto over the salmon. Sprinkle it with chopped pine nuts and if desired, a bit of lemon zest. Serve immediately. (Leftovers can be stored refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.)

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Keywords: Pesto salmon

More recipes with pesto

Got lots of basil? Let’s make everything pesto! Here are some of our favorite meals starring this bright green sauce:

  • Pesto Spaghetti or Pesto Cavatappi The trick to getting the creamiest pesto pasta evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.
  • Shrimp Pesto Pasta An impressively fast and easy dinner recipe! Cover the noodles in glistening green basil pesto for a meal that pleases everyone.
  • Pesto Cream Sauce This 5-minute pesto cream sauce is genius: just simmer pesto and cream until a thick sauce forms!
  • Easy Pesto Shrimp A dinnertime win! Savory basil pesto is a natural pairing with juicy shrimp; serve with pasta or rice for an easy dinner idea.
  • Pesto Aioli Full of incredible basil and Parmesan flavor! Use it for dipping fries or to slather on a burger or sandwich.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously […]

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’m all about the quick skillet meals because, let’s face it, sometimes after a long day of work you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat. This super quick Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a deliciously rich sauce to smother the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure any herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

Originally posted 11-24-2013, updated 8-9-2020.

Creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet, viewed from above

Can I Use a Different Pasta Shape?

Yep! Any short shaped pasta, like penne, rotini, or even macaroni will work fine for this recipe. You can use a longer type pasta, like fettuccine or linguine, but it’s a little harder to stir chunky ingredients, like the chicken and broccoli, into long pasta. Sometimes breaking it in half before cooking can help.

What Kind of Pesto Do You Use?

I used basil pesto from ALDI for this recipe because it’s super affordable. If you don’t have an ALDI store near you, Classico brand pesto and Barilla brand pesto also tend to be very affordable. 

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make a similar creamy sauce by substituting the cream cheese with about a ½ cup heavy cream, or replace both the chicken broth and cream cheese with 1 cup half and half. The sauce will be nice and creamy, but it won’t have that tangy cream cheese flavor that some people are not a fan of. You may need to add a pinch or two of salt at the end if you’re skipping the chicken broth.

Make it a Vegetarian Creamy Pesto Pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta can easily be made vegetarian. Just use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Front view of a bowl of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a fork lifting one bite

 
A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

A super fast creamy pesto sauce drenches tender pasta, chicken breast, and broccoli for an easy weeknight dinner.
Total Cost $5.48 recipe / $1.37 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 606.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.67
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.00
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.12
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $2.49
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto $0.73
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.40

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil just until the pasta is tender, but still slightly firm in the center (7-8 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken breast into ½-inch pieces. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and continue to cook until the outside of the chicken pieces are white, but they're still tender in the center (they will continue to cook as more ingredients are added).
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet with the chicken and allow it to heat through. Once hot, add the cream cheese (cut into small pieces) and pesto. Continue to stir and cook until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth, creamy sauce with the pesto and chicken broth.
  • Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 606.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.58g | Protein: 37.18g | Fat: 28.33g | Sodium: 725.78mg | Fiber: 7.15g

How to Use Your Leftover Pesto

Not sure what to do with the rest of the jar of pesto? Try these recipes:

How to Make Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 8oz. bowtie pasta and continue to boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until it’s tender with a little firmness in the center. Add ½ lb. frozen broccoli florets and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more or just until the broccoli is tender. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Diced chicken breast on an orange cutting board

While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, cut one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch chunks.

Broth being poured into a skillet with cooked chicken pieces.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Once hot, add the diced chicken and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is white on the outside, but still slightly tender inside (it will continue to cook as more ingredients are added). Add ½ cup chicken broth to the skillet and allow it to heat through.

pesto and cream cheese added to the skillet with the chicken and broth

Add 4oz. cream cheese (cut into small chunks) and ⅓ cup basil pesto to the skillet. 

Smooth and creamy pesto sauce in the skillet

Stir and cook over medium heat until the cream cheese has melted and created a smooth sauce with the pesto and broth. The cream cheese might look a little chunky as it’s melting, but keep stirring and cooking, it will smooth out once fully melted.

Finished creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli in the skillet with a spatula

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce. If the sauce becomes too dry or too thick, add another splash of chicken broth to loosen it up.

A bowl full of creamy pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli, a black fork on the side

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Pesto Spaghetti

Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner. It’s late summer and our basil plant is massive. We’ve got pesto coming out of our ears over here. The best way to make this tasty sauce into a fast and easy dinner? Pesto spaghetti! It’s herby, Parmesan-y, garlicky and always a crowd pleaser. We’ll show you the trick to getting a silky sauce covering all your noodles: no more gummy, dry pesto here! Serve them as is, or top with veggies or shrimp for a fast and easy dinner. Here’s what you need to know to make the best spaghetti pesto around! Another idea? Try our Easy Pesto Cream Sauce. How to get the best pesto coverage: pasta water! Here’s the thing. You can make spaghetti pesto by simply mixing pesto with spaghetti. Ever done this and ended up with dry, gummy pasta? It’s a problem. The nuts and the cheese in the thick pesto sauce cling to the noodles if you don’t give them a little help. Here’s what to do to make the pesto perfectly coat the noodles: Add pasta water! […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.

Spaghetti pesto

It’s late summer and our basil plant is massive. We’ve got pesto coming out of our ears over here. The best way to make this tasty sauce into a fast and easy dinner? Pesto spaghetti! It’s herby, Parmesan-y, garlicky and always a crowd pleaser. We’ll show you the trick to getting a silky sauce covering all your noodles: no more gummy, dry pesto here! Serve them as is, or top with veggies or shrimp for a fast and easy dinner. Here’s what you need to know to make the best spaghetti pesto around!

Another idea? Try our Easy Pesto Cream Sauce.

How to get the best pesto coverage: pasta water!

Here’s the thing. You can make spaghetti pesto by simply mixing pesto with spaghetti. Ever done this and ended up with dry, gummy pasta? It’s a problem. The nuts and the cheese in the thick pesto sauce cling to the noodles if you don’t give them a little help. Here’s what to do to make the pesto perfectly coat the noodles:

  • Add pasta water! This is a common Italian technique for cooking pasta. You’ll add cheese and then toss it with the pasta water to create a quick sauce. The starchy pasta water makes the perfect thick and creamy sauce. Same goes for pesto! Start with 1/2 cup pasta water, then add more as necessary until the noodles are slick.
  • Toss the noodles and pesto in a bowl: not the pasta pot. The pasta pot is still hot from cooking the pasta. So it can turn the basil brown and stick to the bottom of the pot. So toss the noodles and pesto together in a bowl: it works much better (we picked up that method here).
How to make spaghetti pesto

Spaghetti pesto is best with homemade pesto

It goes without saying that spaghetti pesto tastes the best with homemade pesto. The flavor here is beautifully fresh: and our pesto recipe has lemon for just the right zing! But we get it: basil isn’t always available. If you’re going storebought, go to the next section. But if you do have basil on hand, here are some things to know:

  • Make pesto with any nut you like. Pine nuts, the traditional nut in pesto, can be expensive and hard to find. So you can easily use cashews or walnuts! Here are our best pesto recipes using all three: Basil Pesto, Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
  • You can make vegan pesto, too. Nix the Parmesan and you’ve got a dairy-free pesto! Try this Vegan Pesto that uses a secret ingredient.
  • There’s also a nut free option. This Basil Sauce has no nuts or cheese!It’s so oily on its own you don’t need to add pasta water, skip that step if using this one.
Basil pesto

Or, use best quality purchased pesto!

To make this spaghetti pesto an easy weeknight meal, just use storebought pesto! It’s easy to find, but there are a few things to know about purchased pesto:

  • The quality of brands varies greatly: so experiment! All brands vary quite a bit in flavor: some are light and fresh, others can taste stale or dull. Make sure to experiment to find one you like.
  • The salt quantity also varies, so adjust the added salt as needed. After tossing the pesto and spaghetti, add additional salt to taste. With homemade pesto we added 1/4 teaspoon salt, but we change it when we’re using a purchased pesto brand.
Spaghetti pesto

Variations on spaghetti pesto

Once you’ve made your pesto spaghetti, there are lots of tasty adders to make it an even tastier meal. Add other vegetables or proteins to customize your pasta: or different pasta shapes!. Here are a few ideas for how to switch it up:

  • Use different pasta — like bucatini or penne. Bucataini is like hollow spaghetti, and it’s our favorite type of pasta. Or use a short-cut shape like penne, cavatappi or bowties.
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes. Slice them up and they add a beautiful color.
  • Tomatoes & fresh mozzarella chunks. Makes anything better.
  • Raw thin sliced zucchini. It adds a nice crunch!
  • Roasted red peppers. Another easy addition.
  • Shrimp. Try it with Pesto Shrimp to make a full meal.
  • Scallops. Make a fancy meal by adding Pan Seared Scallops.
Spaghetti pesto

Make it a meal: what to serve with pesto pasta

What to serve with spaghetti pesto? This is an especially good question if you’re making this as a vegan or vegetarian dinner idea. It’s important to integrate a source of plant-based protein so that the meal is filling. Here are some options for what to serve as a side dish with pesto pasta:

This spaghetti pesto recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, use Vegan Pesto. For gluten-free, try gluten free or legume-based pasta.

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Spaghetti pesto

Spaghetti Pesto


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup basil pesto*
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Just before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta water! Then drain the pasta.
  2. Place the pasta in a bowl (not the pasta pot). Stir together the pasta, pesto, and 1/2 cup pasta water, tossing with tongs until the pesto is well distributed and the pasta water forms a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if desired. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and taste. If the flavor doesn’t pop, add a few more pinches until it does (the salt content in purchased pesto brands varies, as well as the amount of salt you used in the pasta water). Serve immediately.
  3. Store any leftovers refrigerated: note that pesto can get gummy when reheated, so it’s best to eat leftovers cold or room temp.

Notes

*This spaghetti pesto tastes best with homemade pesto! If fresh basil is not available, use your best quality store brand. Brands vary widely especially in salt content, so adjust salt to taste.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Pesto spaghetti, spaghetti pesto pasta

More recipes with pesto

There are so many great ways to use pesto! Try these pesto recipes:

  • Pesto Pizza Full of big flavor! Top with mozzarella and thin sliced tomatoes and dinner is serve.
  • Pesto Mac and Cheese A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This one features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess.
  • Pesto Aioli This pesto aioli is full of incredible basil and Parmesan flavor! Use it for dipping French fries or to slather on a burger or sandwich.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Baked Pesto Bucatini with Burst Tomatoes.

Baked pesto pasta is my perfect summer comfort food. Seriously. This dish of herby noodles with melted cheese, tomatoes that pop and crunchy breadcrumbs? I’m in heaven.  I’ve never been so excited about my basil! It’s doing incredibly well this year. Maybe because I have more time to take care of it? Ha. Anyway – […]

The post Baked Pesto Bucatini with Burst Tomatoes. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Baked pesto pasta is my perfect summer comfort food.

baked pesto bucatini with burst tomatoes

Seriously. This dish of herby noodles with melted cheese, tomatoes that pop and crunchy breadcrumbs?

I’m in heaven. 

fresh basil leaves

I’ve never been so excited about my basil! It’s doing incredibly well this year. Maybe because I have more time to take care of it? Ha.

Anyway – I make pesto often in the summer but this year, I’m making it constantly. 

It’s just so perfect in a million different dishes.

pesto in a food processor

My obsession with pesto bucatini runs deep! A few years ago I made a pistachio pesto bucatini with burrata and it’s wonderful. I just love bucatini so much. I rarely want a long noodle for my pasta dishes, but if I do, it’s ALWAYS bucatini! The thickness is perfect.

tomatoes bursting

This baked version came to mind after I made baked spaghetti one night. I rarely make it in the summer, but it had been rainy and a mess of a day. That’s one of our favorite comfort foods that usually happens in the cooler months. And I just knew I could make a pesto-y summer version.

So here we are!

pesto on bucatini

It’s very versatile because you can use whatever pesto you would like. Homemade? Do a traditional or arugula or even kale. Store bought? No problem. Either works! 

I also like to make the bursting roasted tomatoes while I prep the pasta and pesto. They add a ton of flavor. 

Toss everything with lots of cheese before baking. Oh and breadcrumbs on top! The BEST part. Texture, of course!

baked pesto bucatini

I may frame these noodles in my kitchen, just FYI.

baked pesto bucatini

The other great thing? This can be your dinner tonight OR it works as a great side dish for a dinner party. Or a nice little pasta to take to a potluck! You know, when we can have things like that again.

Like most pastas, leftovers are divine. And easy. Possibly even more flavorful because of the pesto.

baked pesto bucatini with burst tomatoes

Oh and you can toss in some roasted veggies too, if you want. It’s an awesome vehicle for using whatever is leftover in the fridge.

baked pesto bucatini with burst tomatoes

Get your twirling fork ready!

baked pesto pasta spoonful

Baked Pesto Pasta

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Baked Pesto Bucatini with Burst Tomatoes

This baked pesto pasta is made with bucatini and burst tomatoes. Lots of cheese, crunchy breadcrumbs and fresh basil. Delicious!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 to 6 people
Author How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

burst tomatoes

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper

pesto

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

pasta

  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
  • ¼ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • fresh basil, for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are just bursting.
  • While the tomatoes are in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions.
  • Make the pesto! Place the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, red peppers flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse until small pieces remain. Blend while streaming in the olive oil until combined.
  • Toss the pasta with the pesto and place it in the 9x13 dish. Toss in the burst tomatoes and almost all of the cheese, reserving a bit for the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheesy and warm and golden.
  • Remove and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve!

fork twirling baked pesto pasta

Cozy summer on a dish

The post Baked Pesto Bucatini with Burst Tomatoes. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box

The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza […]

The post The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box appeared first on Budget Bytes.

The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box. These easy no-cook lunch boxes make great “brown bag” lunches for the work week, especially for those of you who don’t have access to a refrigerator or microwave during your work day. Just pop one of these in an insulated lunch pack and you’re good to go!

This one goes out to everyone who grew up eating those pizza lunchables. ;)

Four rectangular glass containers with pizza roll ups, green bell pepper, and a dipping cup of pizza sauce.

There is no “one size fits all” lunch box

We all need different amounts of food, so make sure you flex your lunch box up or down to fit your appetite. Here are some other things you can add to this pizza roll up lunch box to beef it up, if you need more!

  • Add an apple, orange, or yogurt cup on the side for dessert
  • Add an extra layer of turkey, ham, or salami sliced deli meat to the roll up
  • Add a layer of caramelized onions to the wrap
  • Spread ricotta cheese on the tortilla in place of pesto (option drizzle pesto on the ricotta and have both!)
  • Add a few banana pepper rings inside the roll up
  • Pack a simple green salad on the side

There are an endless number of toppings you could add to your roll up, but just be careful with “chunky” ingredients that may make it hard to keep the roll up closed.

How long do the lunch boxes last?

You can keep these lunch boxes in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Longevity may vary depending on the conditions inside your refrigerator and freshness of your ingredients.

What containers do you use?

These are Pyrex glass containers, and small metal dipping cups (both are linked in the bottom of the recipe card below). I have the dipping cups in the glass containers in the photos, but they are actually taller than the container and would need to be packed outside the glass container for it to be closed properly.

Three pizza roll up lunch boxes lined up in a row

 
Three pizza roll up lunch boxes lined up in a row

The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box

These easy pizza roll up lunch boxes are a great no-cook lunch idea for your work week. No reheating required for this lunch meal prep!
Total Cost $5.64 recipe / $1.41 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 598.05kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 large tortillas (burrito size) $0.65
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto $0.55
  • 8 slices provolone cheese $1.19
  • 36 slices pepperoni $0.97
  • 4 cups fresh spinach $0.32
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce $0.43
  • 2 green bell peppers $1.53

Instructions

  • Spread 1 Tbsp pesto over the surface of each tortilla (it does not need to cover the entire surface. Lay two slices of provolone over one half of each tortilla, followed by about 9 pepperoni. Lastly, add one handful of fresh spinach to each tortilla.
  • Roll each tortilla up, trying to keep the roll as tight as possible. With the seams facing down, slice the rolls into one-inch sections. Place the sliced roll-ups in your meal prep container. Pack them closely together to keep them from coming unrolled.
  • Slice the green bell peppers into strips. Divide the bell pepper strips between the four containers.
  • Fill four small containers with 2 Tbsp pizza sauce each. Refrigerate your roll ups, bell peppers, and pizza sauce for up to five days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1box | Calories: 598.05kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.18g | Protein: 26.3g | Fat: 35.15g | Sodium: 1509.63mg | Fiber: 5.08g

Want more cold lunch ideas? Check out our No-Reheat Meal Prep category!

A pizza roll up being dipped into a small cup full of pizza sauce

How to Make Pizza Roll Up Lunch Boxes – Step by Step Photos

pesto, provolone, and pepperoni on a tortilla

Spread 1 Tbsp of pesto over each tortilla. Lay two pieces of provolone and about 9 pepperoni on one half of the tortilla.

spinach added to the tortilla

Sprinkle one handful of spinach over each tortilla.

Rolled up and sliced tortilla on a cutting board with a knife

Roll up the tortilla, making sure to roll as tightly as possible. Slice the roll into one-inch sections. The two end pieces might not stay rolled, but as long as the roll is seam-side down, the rest should stay rolled.

Finished pizza roll up lunch boxes

Place the sliced roll-ups in your containers. Cut two green bell peppers into strips and divide them among the four containers. Place 2 Tbsp pizza sauce into four small containers. Pack up your boxes and refrigerate up to 5 days!

The post The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Summer Pesto Mini Meatball Soup.

Um how delicious is this summer pesto mini meatball soup? It’s just the cutest too. Sure, it’s in the 90s this week and might stay there for the remainder of the month, but nothing can keep me from a comforting bowl of soup. Am I right? Summer soup for me usually means chowder (and yes […]

The post Summer Pesto Mini Meatball Soup. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Um how delicious is this summer pesto mini meatball soup?

summer pesto mini meatball soup

It’s just the cutest too.

Sure, it’s in the 90s this week and might stay there for the remainder of the month, but nothing can keep me from a comforting bowl of soup.

Am I right?

mini chicken meatballs

Summer soup for me usually means chowder (and yes I have another one coming!) but the thought of this pesto-y, brothy bowl sounded amazing right now. 

Plus, mini meatballs!

This soup reminds me a little of my homemade spaghettios, and not just because I use the same noodles. While these tiny noodles are the best, I love how simple and flavorful the meal is. I guess it’s sort of like spaghettios, meatballs included, without the tomato sauce?!

Which means I looooove it. 

annelini pasta

I made a mini chicken meatball soup years ago and it’s still a really popular recipe here on the site. Of course, you can make these meatballs any size you’d like, but making them tiny means they are spoonable and therefore, makes the entire bowl more enjoyable. 

It’s a whole meal in a bowl, but soup!

summer pesto mini meatball soup

Here’s the deal with the pesto!

I’m including a smaller batch pesto recipe below, but you could totally use a good jarred pesto if you have one that you enjoy. This is also a recipe that you can make when you have leftover pesto, or pesto frozen from earlier in the year. As long as you’re using a pesto that you like, it will work in the soup. 

And this goes for any pesto! I’ve done kale pesto, pistachio pesto, arugula pesto and many more. All of them will work here!

summer pesto mini meatball soup with spoon

The pesto works in magic ways: we’re using it to flavor the meatballs (which is incredible!) and then we’re also stirring it into the soup. Then, you can even finish off the soup with a big dollop of it on top.

It’s the BEST way to enjoy pesto. Loaded with flavor! 

summer pesto mini meatball soup with spoon

The soup comes together pretty quickly too. You can make the pesto and even the meatballs ahead of time if you wish. You can even make a batch of meatballs and freeze them! It’s a great freezer prep meal that just requires a bit of defrosting before cooking.

And it’s ridiculously comforting, without being heavy.

summer pesto mini meatball soup with spoon

Hello dinner tonight!

summer pesto mini meatball soup

Pesto Mini Meatball Soup

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Summer Pesto Mini Meatball Soup

This summer pesto mini meatball soup is the perfect comfort food in warmer months! Lots of fresh basil, a delicious broth and noodles. Delish.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

small batch pesto

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

mini meatballs & soup

  • 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey
  • ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, panko or fine crumbs both work
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth, low sodium is fine - you may want a pinch more salt
  • 12 ounces tiny cut pasta, like ditalini or annellini
  • fresh basil, for topping
  • shaved parmesan, for topping

Instructions

pesto

  • Place the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, red peppers flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse until small pieces remain. Blend while streaming in the olive oil until combined. You can store extras of this in the fridge for about a week.

mini meatballs & soup

  • In a bowl, combine the chicken/turkey with the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, pesto and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until just combined the form the mixture into mini meatballs. (Or large! Whatever you prefer!)
  • Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the meatballs in a single later, browning on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Remove the meatballs from the pan and place them on a plate.
  • Keep the pot over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Stir in the shallot with a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the meatballs back to the pot. Add in the broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir in the pasta. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Once the pasta is cooked, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pesto. (Note: the soup is not a pretty color!) Ladle the soup into bowls and the stir in more pesto on a bowl-by-bowl basis, however much you want. Garnish with shaved parmesan and extra fresh basil and serve!

up close summer pesto mini meatball soup

Garlic bread on the side please!

The post Summer Pesto Mini Meatball Soup. appeared first on How Sweet Eats.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

During the lockdown, I did what everyone else did: Went through all my kitchen cabinets, cleaning them out, and finding little bits and bags and jars of stuff that I should have used a long time ago, but didn’t. You did do that – right? Mine was quite a purge. I’ve had so many things from travels, friends, food companies, houseguests, strangers, etc. that my…

During the lockdown, I did what everyone else did: Went through all my kitchen cabinets, cleaning them out, and finding little bits and bags and jars of stuff that I should have used a long time ago, but didn’t.

You did do that – right?

Mine was quite a purge. I’ve had so many things from travels, friends, food companies, houseguests, strangers, etc. that my drawers and cabinets were out-of-control. I posted some pictures on social media of the things that I appeared to be running low on, but that I was anxious to use up, and people, kindly, offered to send me more…which would have negated the whole idea of the purge. The time had come to use things up.

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