Pesto Fettuccine is a super quick and easy pesto pasta recipe that is perfect any night of the week! Using simple ingredients with bright flavours this dish comes together in less than 15 minutes. The whole family will love the minimal effort maximum flavour fettucine pesto and you only need a handful of ingredients to make it!
The Fettuccine Bolognese offers a fettuccine pasta of a non traditional spag bowl kind.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Budget friendly: without the addition of meat and using low cost ingredients this is a recipe that won't blow the budget. Bring the fettucine with basil pesto together on a week night or night that you would normally have gone out to eat and save time, energy and effort all at once 😉.
- Busy weeknights: don't allow for in depth time consuming recipes. Having a simple Italian recipe like this up your sleeve allows for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Vegetarian pasta: we all love a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs from time to time but other times it can be nice to have a lighter pasta. This fettucine al pesto (with fresh pesto) is satisfying but won't leave you feeling as heavy 'ugh' as a meat sauce pasta 👍😊.
- Fresh basil pesto: is surprisingly easy and straight forward to make at home. Store-bought pesto is easy, but you know exactly what ingredients go into the pesto when its a homemade pesto sauce and can switch up the nut for a change (see my substitutions and variations for more).
- Taste and texture: this pesto fettuccine recipe offers freshly cooked al dente pasta mixed together with garlicky, herby, citrus freshness. It is packed with flavour and yet very simple to bring together. It will soon become one of your favorite recipes to return to over and over again.
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:
- Fettuccine: an easy to get your hands on pasta that will be in the pasta aisle at the supermarket. It has a flat wide dimension to it and is excellent for allowing the pesto to cling to the pasta.
- Basil leaves: fresh with leaves trimmed from the stems. You can use kitchen scissors to prepare the basil. No need to rinse it, simply pop into the food processor.
- Pistachio nuts: a great nut to use for pesto for its lovely colour as well as high protein value.
- Parmesan cheese: or pecorino romano freshly grated if you can, it is much softer (less gummy) than store bought pre grated cheese.
- Garlic: 1 to 2 cloves is a good amount to aim for. Simply cut the little bit off at the base and pop the remaining cloves into the food processor.
- Olive oil: this helps to bring all of the other ingredients in the pesto together, acting like the binding agent or glue.
- Lemon juice: this gives the pesto lift. It is a fantastic citrus that you can freshly squeeze or use lemon juice from a bottle. We want to taste the pesto before adding this to ensure we get the right flavour balance.
Tasty Tip: I like to offer a number of substitutions and variations to give you options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe below 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the basil pesto. I recommend using a food processor to do this as it makes it simple and easy.
- Add basil leaves (Photo 1)
- Then pistachio nuts (Photo 2)
- Add garlic (Photo 3)
- Next add parmesan cheese (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Pesto Fettuccine
Start by layering the pesto ingredients into the food processor bowl, with the basil leaves, pistachio nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese. You can give them a blitz along the way to ensure that they chop up finely.
- Add the olive oil (Photo 5)
- Then add the lemon juice (Photo 6)
- Next transfer the pesto to a small bowl (Photo 7)
- Reserve some of the pasta water (Photo 8)
Drizzle in the olive oil and then use a teaspoon to taste the pesto. Next add the lemon juice. Do this slowly and taste it as you go. You can reduce the amount (2 tablespoons) or add a little more to get the balance just right.
Once the pesto is tasting perfect to you, use a spatula and transfer it to a small bowl. This can be set aside whilst you prepare the pasta.
Read the package directions for the fettuccine and cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water with a teaspoon of salt. Use a heatproof jug to scoop out some of the pasta water (1 to 2 cups) then drain pasta, discarding the remaining water.
Next add the hot pasta to a large skillet or sauté pan, have the heat on very low. Dollop in the pesto then pour in ⅓ cup of the starchy pasta water. Stir to get the pesto mixed consistently through the fettuccine. You can add a little more pasta water at this stage if you wish to as well.
Then get ready to portion and plate and grab your garnishes to finish it all off 👍😁!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Be as liberal as you like when garnishing the dish and grate some more cheese (parmesan or romano), sprinkle with cracked black pepper and add some basil leaves for a bright pop of colour.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the fettuccine in sealed, airtight containers in the fridge. They can be refrigerated for 3 days and can be consumed hot or cold.
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 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:
- Yes, you can use another type of pasta like spaghetti, linguine, angle hair or your favorite pasta.
- If you want to make a creamy pesto sauce, you can add heavy cream to the skillet, dollop in the pesto and combine, then stir in the cooked fettuccine and starchy pasta water.
- Pine nuts, cashews or macadamia nuts are all alternatives that can be used (to the equivalent amount) in place of the pistachio nuts.
- Prawns (shrimp) and scallops are seafood options that work well with this flavour combination.
- Add some baby spinach or rocket (arugula) if you want to add vegetables to the dish.
- Add some crispy thin strips of crispy prosciutto for extra texture!
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are minimal prep extra ingredients adding another pop of colour if you wish to add them.
- Fresh parsley is another great way to garnish the dish.
- Add some cooked chicken for extra protein.
- Cooked and heated crumbed chicken tenders cut into smaller pieces is another great addition.
💡 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:
- Add a teaspoon of salt to the water when cooking the fettuccine.
- Use a heatproof jug to drain and reserve some of the water before draining the pasta.
- You can rinse the cooked pasta once drained, however, this is not essential.
- To garnish the dish, be generous with parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and additional fresh basil leaves.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Is pesto pasta best served hot or cold?
Pesto pasta is best served hot if it is a dinner pasta recipe or cold if it is a pasta salad recipe.
What cheese goes with pesto?
Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiana reggiano are all excellent cheeses that go with pesto.
Can I leave cheese out of pesto?
Yes, you can omit the cheese from pesto, however doing so will lead to less paste like pesto. You can add additional olive oil and nuts as well as using the lemon juice to ensure that the flavour is to your liking.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Getting dinner on the table can be the easiest thing that you do all day with some winning recipes to turn to. Here are some ideas that I know you will love:
- Easy Pork Bolognese Recipe
- Tagliatelle Pesto
- Spaghetti Alla Bolognese
- Baked Meatball Subs
- Easy Greek Ribs Recipe
- Pasta Alla Gorgonzola
- Spaghetti Al Pesto
- Gnocchi Gorgonzola
- Spaghetti Gorgonzola
- Rigatoni Gorgonzola
It is time to play with pesto my friend!
Pesto Fettuccine (Fettuccine Al Pesto)
- 1 Food processor
- 1 Teaspoon
- 1 Spatula
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Large saute pan
- 1 Medium sauce pan
- 1 Heatproof jug to drain the pasta water
- 1 Colander
- 1 ⅓ cup measuring spoon to measure the pasta water
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Kitchen Tongs
- 3 cups basil leaves loosely packed, leaves only, stems removed
- ½ pistachio nuts Note 1
- 2 cloves garlic Note 2
- ½ cup parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tbs lemon juice Note 3
- reserved pasta water Note 4
- 500 grams/1 pound fettuccine
- 1 teaspoon salt to cook the fettuccine
- parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano cheese
- cracked black pepper
- basil leaves
- Make pesto: add the fresh basil leaves, garlic, pistachio nuts and parmesan cheese to the food processor bowl and blitz for about 15 seconds. Then scrap the edges down with a spatula to keep all of the ingredients low in the bowl.
- Oil: drizzle in the olive oil and blitz for around 5 seconds to combine. Then take a teaspoon and test a little bit of the pesto.
- Lemon juice: pour in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and blitz to combine. Use the spatula again to scrape down the sides of the pesto. Take the teaspoon and test another small amount of pesto. Add remaining tablespoon of lemon juice if needed to balance the flavours. Transfer combined pesto to a small bowl and set aside.
- Fettuccine: read and follow the packet instructions to cook the fettucine in a medium saucepan of salted water. Before draining, use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of pasta water. Then use a colander to drain the saucepan and discard the water.
- Combine pesto and pasta: add the cooked fettuccine to a large sauté pan. Turn the heat to low. Dollop in the pesto. Pour in ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta water and use a wooden spoon and pair of kitchen tongs to stir and combine. Keep stirring till the pasta, water and pesto is consistently combined.
- Serve and enjoy: portion the pesto fettuccine into serving bowls, garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and fresh basil leaves. Provide forks and spoons for the eating.
- Note 1 - Pistachio nuts: you can also toast some roughly chopped leftovers of these to garnish the top of the dish if you want to. Substitute the equivalent amount of pine nuts, cashews or walnuts.
- Note 2 - Garlic cloves: if using fresh cloves, use a knife and chopping board to cut the small end bit of the base, before adding to the food processor. You can use ½ to 1 tablespoon of minced garlic if you don't have garlic cloves.
- Note 3 - Lemon juice: this lifts the flavour of the pesto, but can also quickly over power it if too much juice is used. So taste the pesto before adding any lemon juice, then add 1 tablespoon and combine, then taste again before deciding if you want to add the other tablespoon. You will know quickly from the taste if it is spot on or needs the extra amount. (I do use the 2 tablespoons, but also taste it repeatedly to ensure that specific batch of pesto needs the 2).
- Note 4 - Reserved pasta water: we only need ⅓ cup of this for the recipe. It is added once the cooked fettuccine and pesto have been added to the sauté pan together. Pour it in slowly and then use a wooden spoon to stir and combine. I refer in the post to taking out 1 to 2 cups. This is because you can leave this in the fridge in a sealed, jar with lid and then use a little to juice up the leftovers before heating (simply drizzle it in and then stir).