A super-quick, easy, and versatile spaghetti pesto recipe. I love recipes that offer flavor, versatility, and get me back to my family quickly – so this is it!
Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen or seasoned chef, there are a few recipes everyone should know. And this is one of them! Spaghetti pesto is delicious on its own, or you can “dress it up” in many different ways.
I will add my beautifully basic vegetarian pasta recipe below, and after you’ve made it a couple of times, you’ll know it. However, under the recipe card, look for the ‘options’ heading. Those options are my suggestions for various ways you can personalize the recipe. Maybe you would prefer to add chicken? Or some vegetables? Maybe you like penne instead of spaghetti? Whatever your taste, whatever your budget, whatever is in your refrigerator/ panty, you can find an option to suit you.
What is pesto?
Pesto alla genovese (or just ‘pesto’) is basically a basil sauce that originated in the Genoa region in Italy. Pesto (meaning ‘pounded’ in Italian) combines combines fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, good quality olive oil, garlic, and salt. The result is delicious! You can make it the traditional way by hand with a mortar and pestle or in a blender if you don’t have the time and energy for that!
Serve pesto over any type of pasta and sprinkle with a grated hard cheese (like parmesan or pecorino). Everyone will love it!
Benefits of basil
We all know that basil is delicious, but is it good for you? According to the experts – yes! Basil is loaded with antioxidants, is a good source of Vitamins A, K, and manganese, and is packed with magnesium. Basil also works an anti-inflammatory. In fact, although we use basil today as a herb for cooking, it was originally cultivated for its medicinal qualities.
- Large saucepan/ pot
- 1 pound spaghetti (approx 500 grams)
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 3 oz extra virgin olive oil (about 80 ml)
- pinch salt
- parmesan cheese, shaved (for serving)
- Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling water until al dente (approximately 10 minutes), then drain.
- Put the basil, salt, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan in a food processor and process for 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
- With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil until it is well combined.
- Add the pesto to the spaghetti and stir through.
- Serve immediately while hot, using shaved parmesan cheese to garnish.
There are SO many ways to personalize spaghetti pesto, and I can’t wait to share some of them with you!
- Toss bite-sized pieces of cooked, boneless chicken through the pesto sauce before serving.
- Add ‘al dente’ vegetables: snow peas (mange tout), green peas, corn kernels, carrot, broccolini – whatever you like!
- Replace the spaghetti with any type of pasta you have handy: penne, fusilli, linguine, farfalle, rigatoni, etc – or even gnocchi.
- If you, your family, and/ or your guests aren’t so keen on basil, there are plenty of alternatives. Try: cilantro (coriander), arugula (rocket/ roquette/ rucola), watercress, or even kale.
- Replace the pine nuts for cashews to make a creamier sauce, or walnuts for a nuttier flavor.
- Feeling fancy? Why not try red pesto! Use sun dried tomatoes and/ or roasted red pepper (capsicum). Both are delicious and make eye-catching alternatives.
- Serve with a small, crunchy side salad and a piece of garlic bread. Yum!
I would love to hear how you go making my spaghetti pesto – and whether you tried any of the options! Please leave me a note in the comments section below.
Some of my other delicious pasta recipes that you should try:
- Macaroni and cheese – Every kid loves this one!
- Creamy spinach penne – so good, comfort food for spinach lovers.
Until next time…!
Love & easy recipes, Bx