Pesto pappardelle is a quick and easy recipe that takes the effort out of getting dinner sorted. With chewy al dente pasta and a creamy homemade basil pesto sauce this recipe comes together easily! Total time needed is 15 minutes using a simple 8 ingredient combination. Let's be Italian for a minute and call this pappardelle al pesto and you my friend can tell the whole family, it will be the best pesto pasta they have ever eaten!
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Simple ingredients: we only use 7 ingredients to make the pappardelle pesto. 8 if we count the black pepper used to garnish the finished dish.
- Vegetarian: take a night off cooking and whip up this simple vegetarian pasta saving money on expensive meat products! Pappardelle with pesto is perfect for Meatless Mondays or simply night's that you have decided your family is eating less meat.
- Versatile: whip up the pasta as is, or add some heated leftover chicken and make it a chicken pasta recipe. You can also add cooked shrimp or shredded leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Budget friendly: this is one of those recipes where you might already have a number of the ingredients to make it in the pantry, garden or fridge! You have got to love a recipe where you can whip out to the herb garden, give it a snip or 2 and then use that to make dinner. Right my friend 🥰👏.
- Easy recipe: come in the door from work, pour yourself a glass of wine, drown out any background noise with a little spotify and bring this recipe together with minimal effort. There is, however, my friend, maximum yum to be had by the eaters 🤣👍.
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:
- Garlic: fresh garlic cloves if you can get them. We only need to peel the skin and cut the dark little end bit off. 2 - 3 is ideal.
- Pistachio nuts: a robust nut with fantastic colours which works very well bringing a little texture and diversity to the pesto. The version we need are raw, unroasted and unsalted nuts.
- Lemon juice: bottled lemon juice is totally fine to use for this recipe. It adds lift to the pesto with a lovely citrus zing about it!
- Olive oil: this works as the 'glue' to stick all of the rest of the pesto ingredients together.
- Pecorino romano cheese: an excellent cheese to use for pesto. It has a lovely sweet taste. Similar yet less subtle than parmesan cheese. It is made from sheep's milk as opposed to cow's milk.
- Basil: we only need to leaves, so you can trim the stems and discard these.
- Pappardelle: is a wide flat pasta that is similar to tagliatelle, yet wider still. Pappardelle pasta is an egg pasta from Tuscany. It is excellent for saucy pasta recipes as the sauce clings to the pasta.
Tasty Tip: I like to offer you 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 before diving 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 pesto in the food processor.
- Add basil leaves to food processor (Photo 1)
- Then add pistachio nuts (Photo 2)
- Next add the garlic (Photo 3)
- Add the pecorino romano cheese (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Pesto Pappardelle
To start with we need to use a food processor to make the basil pesto.
Layer in the basil leaves, pistachio nuts, garlic and cheese. Give these a 5 -10 second pulse to chop up then use a spatula to push the pesto from the sides of the bowl back down into the lower part of the food processor.
Next drizzle in the olive oil and give it a pulse to combine.
Then take a teaspoon and test the pesto.
Pour in half of the lemon juice, give it a pulse then test it again. Next add the remainder of the lemon juice as required.
- Add olive oil (Photo 5)
- Then add lemon juice (Photo 6)
- Transfer pesto to a small bowl (Photo 7)
- Add reserved pasta water (Photo 8)
Once the pesto is combined, use a spatula to transfer it to a small bowl. Then set it aside whilst you cook the pasta.
To cook the pappardelle, place a medium sauce pan full of water on the stove, bring it to the boil and add a pinch of salt.
Next read and follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pappardelle.
Moments before it is al dente use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water.
Then use a colander to drain the rest of the pasta and discard that water.
Next we need to add the cooked drained pasta to a large saute pan (no heat required for this step). Dollop in the pesto and then add ½ cup (125 ml) of the starchy pasta water.
Use a pair of kitchen tongs along with a wooden spoon to toss and combine.
- Add the cooked drained pasta to pan (Photo 9)
- Then add the pesto (Photo 10)
- Pour in ½ cup of pasta water (Photo 11)
- Toss and garnish the dish (Photo 12)
You won't need any heat for the final 4 steps as the pasta has enough steam coming off it to soften and melt the pesto, slickly combining it with the starchy water so it binds together.
Once it is all consistently mixed in, you can get your garnish on using a combination of freshly grated cheese, black pepper and some fresh basil leaves.
Provide forks and spoons so the eaters can get their twirl on and you are about ready to dive on in!!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
When garnishing, be generous with a trio of freshly grated pecorino romano over the top as well as some black pepper and fresh basil leaves.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Let the dish cool then transfer leftovers into a sealed, airtight container. They can be kept for 3 days and are best reheated before consuming.
How to Reheat
The microwave is the quickest and easiest way to reheat leftovers.
Simply pop in a bowl with cling wrap and heat on high to 1 to 2 minutes.
How to Freeze
You can freeze leftovers if you really want to.
However, this type of recipe is really best eaten around the time it is cooked.
Freezing it, whilst convenient and a way to reduce wastage has a tendency to dry the pesto pappardelle out. It can be harder to juice up leftovers when reheating also as you don't have any starchy pasta water at this point to help out.
If however, you insist, then the best way to do it is to let frozen leftovers thaw completely before reheating. ie don't try and defrost then reheat as this gets messy and the pasta breaks apart.
😉 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:
- In place of the pistachio nuts, you can use pine nuts, cashews or walnuts. (Equivalent amount).
- For the cheese you can use regular or bold parmesan cheese. Both work well.
- For extra protein you can add some left over shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Or keeping it vegetarian but wanting extra protein, try sprinkling some crushed pistachios over the top. You can choose to toast these or leave raw.
- Another way to add extra protein but keep it meatless is to dollop in some fresh ricotta cheese.
- For additional colour add some cherry tomatoes or sliced bocconcini balls.
- You can vary the pasta and try using fusilli, linguine or tagliatelle. Or if none of those are up your alley, you can always use your favorite 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:
- You can use the pulse function on the food processor to make the pesto. It only takes seconds to combine.
- You will also find a spatula handy when making the pesto. As it blitzes it spreads out around the insides of the food processor bowl. You want to use the spatula to push these bits back down into the bowl as you blitz.
- When tossing the pasta with the pesto and pasta water, you might find it handy to use a pair of tongs (in one hand) as well as a wooden spoon (in the other hand).
- You will notice that I say 'scoop out 1 - 2 cups of pasta water', yet later I indicated that we only need ½ cup (125ml) to make the pesto pasta sauce. This is because it is easier to scoop it out and measure it later plus leftovers can be stored in a jar with a lid in the fridge. These can be drizzled over and used to juice up any leftovers.
- We don't need to use the stove when we are tossing the pasta and pesto. There is heat and steam from the pasta but not direct increasing temperature cooking heat. This helps the pesto stay vibrant and green in colour.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Do I heat pesto before putting on pasta?
No, you don't heat pesto before putting it on pasta. Rather, the heat of the cooked pasta, combined with the reserved pasta water will be enough to bring the pasta, pesto and pasta water together.
What to serve with pesto pasta?
Serve the pesto pasta alongside ribs, pizza, garlic bread or roasted vegetables.
Is all pappardelle made with egg?
Yes, pappardelle pasta is an egg based pasta.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Sometimes we want quick and easy and sometimes serious fine dining that takes a little more effort. Either way we also want variety. Be it protein, cooking method, carbs or special occasions, variety through an array of diverse recipes is necessary to turn to.
Here are some that I hope you will love:
- Crumbed Lamb Cutlets
- Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Honey Sriracha Meatballs
- Pappardelle Bolognese
- Spaghetti with Alfredo
- Garlic Pepper Beef
- Kottbullar (Swedish Meatballs)
- Red Wine Short Ribs
- Braised Beef Ribs
- Macaroni Alfredo
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
It is time to get our pappardelle on my friend, with a little pesto and a whole lot of cheese 🥰! You can also find all of my pasta recipes in the one spot!
- 1 Microplane zester to grate the cheese
- 1 Food processor to make the pesto
- 1 Heat proof jug to scoop the pasta water out
- 1 Colander to drain the pasta
- 1 Medium Saucepan to cook the pasta
- 1 Kitchen Tongs to toss the pesto, pappardelle and pasta water
- 1 Wooden spoon as above
- 3 cups basil leaves loosely packed, stems removed
- ⅓ cup pistachio nuts
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
- ½ cup pecorino romano cheese freshly grated using a microplane zester
- ⅓ cup/80ml olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup/125 ml reserved pasta water
- 500 grams/16 oz pappardelle pasta
- Basil pesto: add the basil leaves, pistachio nuts, garlic and pecorino romano cheese to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine, then drizzle in the olive oil. Blitz again then use a spatula to scrap down the insides of the bowl, keeping the pesto low, near the blade level. Next take a teaspoon and taste the pesto. Then add half of the lemon juice. Blitz to combine then add the remaining lemon juice if desired.
- Pappardelle: read and follow the instructions on the pasta to cook it in a large pot of boiling salted water. Moments before it is ready, use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of the water. Then use a colander and drain the rest of the pasta water.
- Pesto and pasta: add the cooked pasta to a large pan (no heat required) then dollop in the pesto, pour in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water then use a wooden spoon and kitchen tongs (one in each hand) to toss and combine the pappardelle, pesto and pasta water.
- Garnish: generously garnish the pasta by grating some additional pecorino romano cheese over the top, sprinkling in some cracked black pepper and adding a few fresh basil leaves. Provide forks and spoons 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: I usually take out 1 to 2 cups but for the recipe we only need to add ½ cup. 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.
- Serving size: 4 main dish sizes or 6 plus if you are wanting to serve this as a side with a main dish. Scoop some pasta onto the plate and a bit of everything else to make it a complete feast.