Beef Pesto Pasta is a super quick recipe that will get dinner sorted in less than 20 minutes. Cheesy, creamy and beefy, this combination works with minimal effort needed to create maximum yum. This steak pesto pasta is perfect any night of the week with herby freshness.
The Beef Osso Bucco offers a non pasta beef recipe that uses polenta as a great serving pairing.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Family friendly: there is no strong or intense flavours in the recipe so you will find it suitable for all ages from little kids to big ones!
- Simple ingredients: everything you need for the recipe can be sort from the local supermarket. There won't be any need to drive all over town to speciality stores (whose got time for that 😉😂).
- Protein and carbs: sometimes you want one and not the other and sometimes you want both at the same time. This dish gives us the carb tick from the pasta as well as the protein tick from the steak.
- Fast recipe: this is a recipe with minimal prep that comes together very quickly. It works for night's when you want home cooked but not for that process to take a lot of time and effort.
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Beef: stir fry steak strips offer convenience as they require no effort on your behalf to cut. Or you can choose steak and cut it into slices yourself. Rump steak, fillet or sirloin steak are all good choices.
- Pasta: up to use which type you use as many will work for the recipe. I use penne as the pesto slips and slides into the tubes, plus it has great robust texture.
- Basil: one of the best herbs that you can cook with! To prepare it we only need to cut the leaves from the stems. Save some for garnish as well 😉👌.
- Pistachio nuts: work so well in pesto yet can be underrated at times. They bring both great texture and colour to the recipe.
- Garlic: a couple of cloves of fresh with the little end bit cut off.
- Pecorino romano: this is a cheese that has a stronger taste than parmesan. Although you can substitute either when called for in recipes (equivalent amount). The difference between the 2 is that this one is made from sheep's milk and parmesan from cow's milk.
- Olive oil: you will see it twice in the photo above. We use it both in the creation of the basil pesto as well as in the pan to cook the beef.
- Lemon juice: bottled is totally fine if you don't want to juice a fresh lemon. We taste the pesto before adding this to get the balance spot on to perfection 👌.
- Garnish: cheese, cracked black pepper and basil leaves is an easy winning combination to offer variety through colour and texture.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We begin by making the basil pesto in the food processor.
- Add basil leaves (Photo 1)
- Then add pistachio nuts (Photo 2)
- Add garlic cloves (Photo 3)
- Next add pecorino romano cheese (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Beef Pesto Pasta
Start by adding the basil leaves to the food processor, followed by the pistachios, garlic and cheese.
Blitz for 10 to 15 seconds to combine then add the olive oil and blitz again. Taste the pesto, then add half of the lemon juice, making the decision at this time if you need the rest of the lemon juice or the pesto is already balanced.
Blitz to combine, using a spatula to scrape down the insides of the food processor bowl as you go. Then transfer the combined pesto to a small bowl.
- Add the olive oil (Photo 5)
- Then add the lemon juice (Photo 6)
- Transfer pesto to small bowl (Photo 7)
- Reserve pasta water (Photo 8)
Read and follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pasta in a medium sauce pan with boiling salted water.
Reserve some like you see in the photo above then drain the rest using a colander over the sink.
- Add oil, beef, salt and pepper (Photo 9)
- Cook till browned (Photo 10)
- Add cooked pasta (Photo 11)
- Then add cooked beef and pesto (Photo 12)
Next get ready to cook the beef by adding olive oil to a large sauté pan (or skillet), followed by the beef strips, salt and pepper.
It will take between 8 to 10 minutes to cook the beef and you can move it around in the pan with a silicon turner during this time.
Once it is cooked, you can remove it from the pan, use folded paper towel to mop up any juices (no need to rinse or clean) then add the cooked pasta to the pan.
Add in the cooked beef, dollop in the pesto and pour in ½ cup of the pasta water.
Use a wooden spoon to toss and combine till the dish is consistently mixed together.
You won't need all of the pasta water that we took out earlier, but save it in the fridge in a sealed jar as it can be useful to juice up any leftovers.
Then garnish the combined dish with the array of pecorino romano cheese (freshly grated), cracked black pepper and basil leaves. Be generous and liberal when doing so 👌👍😉.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
If you don't want beef, try cooking the Italian Herb Chicken Thighs and slicing them before stirring into the pesto pasta, they will do the job nicely.
Get your garnish on like I do in the photo below, with the combination we talked about above.
It is a simple but effective trio of grated pecorino romano cheese, cracked black pepper and bright green fresh basil leaves.
You might almost think you are eating in Italy 😉😂.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the beef pesto pasta in sealed, air tight containers in the fridge. They can be refrigerated for 3 days and are best reheated prior to consuming.
How to Freeze
Allow the dish to fully cool. Then portion into air tight containers or zip lock bags, squeeze the air out then seal. Frozen portions of the dish can be kept in the freezer for 3 months.
How to Reheat
Allow frozen portions to fully thaw in the fridge overnight or on the bench during the day before reheating. Reheat in the microwave (fastest) covered for 3 to 4 minutes. Or you can add the cooked steak pesto pasta back to a pan on the stove with additional reserved pasta water, turn to medium heat and stir till the pasta is heated through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- If you want to use beef mince instead of steak you can make it a ground beef pesto pasta instead!
- You can use chicken or shrimp as alternative proteins if you wish to.
- You can use alternative types of pasta be it gluten free, rigatoni, macaroni, fettuccine or your favourite!
- Parmesan cheese to the equivalent amount can be substituted for the pecorino romano.
- Pine nuts, cashews or walnuts can be substituted for the pistachios to the equivalent amount.
- If you want to make the dish but have no time to make the pesto, you can use store bought instead. You will need about 1 cup of pesto and the stuff in the fridge section, 'dip' type pesto is better than the jars on the shelf in the pasta section.
- Add some chopped cherry tomatoes and sliced bocconcini for additional flavour, texture and colour with barely any more work involved!
- Keen for the combination but not the carbs? You can use zucchini noodles instead of the pasta.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- A spatula is super handy when making the pesto to scrap down the insides of the bowl. As well as helping to transfer it from the food processor to a small bowl.
- If there is much extra juice in the pan from when you cooked the beef, you can use paper towel to absorb some of this. However, there is no need to rinse or clean the pan before adding the pasta, pesto and beef combination.
- If the cooked pasta looks a little stuck together, you can rinse it under tap water which will help separate it.
- The pan doesn't need to have heat when you are adding the pesto to the pasta, as the pasta water and hot pasta will melt and bind it. However, you will need to heat the dish on the stove prior to serving to ensure that the beef pieces have heated through again.
- Grate the cheese directly over the dish for garnishing to save doing so onto a chopping board and then having to transfer it.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What protein to pair with pesto pasta?
You are unlimited in choices for pairing proteins with pesto pasta. Some great options are chicken, shrimp, pork and beef.
What is the secret to perfect pasta?
Adding salt to the pasta cooking water and allowing the saucepan to come to the boil will help to ensure perfectly cooked pasta. The other secret is to cook the pasta till al dente which allows it to be a little chewy still. This is especially important for recipes where you will further cook the pasta either in a pan or in a pasta bake.
Does basil taste good with beef?
Basil is a great herb to pair with beef. The wet basil pesto paste clings to the cooked beef offering a cheesy herb sauce for the beef. It is a tasty combination.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Let's make dinner the most looked forward to meal of the day with a variety of recipes offering maximum flavour across a variety of cook times. I have a feeling you will also enjoy these recipes:
- Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Slow Cooker Pulled Lamb
- Pesto Rigatoni
- Greek Lamb Shanks
- Pork Osso Bucco
- Pesto Pasta with Sausage
- Spaghetti Alla Bolognese
- Meatball Bolognese
- Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese
It is time to have a beef and pesto party my friend! You can also find all of my dinner recipes in the one spot.
Beef Pesto Pasta
- 1 Food processor
- 1 Spatula
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Sauté pan
- 1 Medium sauce pan
- 1 Colander
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Heat proof jug
- 1 Measuring cups and spoons
- 3 cups basil leaves loosely packed, leaves trimmed from stems
- ½ cup pistachio nuts
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pecorino romano cheese Note 1
- ⅓ cup/80 ml olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice Note 2
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 500 grams/1 pound beef cut into stir fry long thin strips
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (cooking salt)
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
- 500 grams/1 pound penne pasta
- ½ cup reserved pasta water Note 3
- pecorino romano cheese
- basil leaves
- Cook beef: add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saute pan, turn heat to high, add beef strips, salt and pepper. Cook till the beef has browned on all sides, using a silicon turner to help move the meat around in the pan.
- Make pesto: add basil leaves, pistachio nuts, garlic, pecorino romano cheese to the bowl of a food processor. Blitz to combine for about 15 seconds and scrap the insides of the bowl down with a spatula once done. Pour in the olive oil and then continue to blitz. Taste the pesto, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and add the 2nd tablespoon as needed. Blitz till consistently combined then transfer combined pesto to a small bowl.
- Cook pasta: read and follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pasta in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water. Moments before it is done, use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the water. Then drain the pasta into the sink using a colander and discard the remaining pasta water.
- Combine: add the cooked drained pasta to a large saute pan, add in the cooked beef and dollop in the pesto. Pour in ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Then use a wooden spoon to toss the pasta, pesto, pasta water and beef till it is consistently combined.
- Garnish: generously garnish the top of the combined steak and pesto pasta with grated pecorino romano, cracked black pepper and basil leaves. Provide utensils for serving.
- Note 1 Pecorino romano: this is a sweet cheese made from sheep's milk. You can substitute parmesan cheese to the equivalent amount if you wish.
- Note 2 Lemon juice: freshly squeezed from a lemon or bottled is fine for this recipe, don't sweat the difference.
- Note 3 Reserved pasta water: for my eagle eyed readers 🥰. I usually take out 1 to 2 cups but for the recipe we only need to add ½ cup. In the photo I am using a ¼ cup and poured this in twice (my ½ cup was in the dishwasher). If you keep the leftovers in a sealed, jar with lid these can be used to juice up leftovers. Hence the difference that we take out compared to what we pour in to the recipe.