Ok, folks, it doesn't get much easier or tastier than this dish, my easy pesto pasta recipe. The satisfaction and fullness from the pasta, the energy from the beans and the flavors from the pesto and tomatoes make this one of the best dishes you can have in your repertoire. This easy recipe will be a new favorite once you give it a try.
Why You Will Love This Easy Pasta with Pesto Sauce
I have been making this basil pesto pasta the exact same way since I was in college and I am not tired of it yet. What I needed back then (and still do today) was a dish that I could easily make and that would keep me full for the day.
I would pack up this pesto pasta and bring it with me on campus (at the time) or work and it would fuel me for an entire day. The only cooking you need to do is cook the pasta and the rest is just assembling (including the pesto).
This is proof that great meals can be assembled! This pesto pasta is the perfect meal to eat at home or as a take-along to an outing since it is served at room temperature. It also heats up nicely in the microwave if you prefer it hot.
Make this with store-bought pesto or homemade, either way, it will be delicious.
This easy pesto pasta has a few usual ingredients and a few new ones. I am going to break down all of them for you below.
- The pesto sauce for this pasta: Now for the pesto in this recipe, if you have a favorite jarred pesto brand that you like, then, by all means, use that if it is easier for you. Just make sure it is a good one. I often use a store-bought pesto for this recipe. If you want to make your own, I have a wonderful walnut basil pesto that I have been using for years and I love it.
- The Cannellini Beans: This recipe also calls for cannellini beans which can totally be optional, however, I highly recommend them in this dish. Mixing cannellini beans with pesto pasta makes this a high-energy dish. Tip: Make sure that you rinse your beans well before adding them to your pasta since canned beans sit in a brine.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are the fresh ingredient that balances this pasta and keeps it feeling light. I also happen to love tomatoes. The combination of pesto pasta and tomatoes is a match made in heaven!
- Balsamic Vinegar: Adds a faint touch of sweetness to the pasta.
I feel very strongly in saying that to make pesto sauce taste better, whether it is store-bought jarred pesto or homemade, you need to add one additional ingredient to a pesto and pasta recipe. This ingredient which is a little different from other pesto and pasta recipes is the addition of balsamic vinegar.
The balsamic vinegar helps wake those flavors back up and adds a faint touch of sweetness in the background. It is just a little that you add so don't worry that it will be too much.
How to make this easy pesto pasta
Making this pesto pasta is so easy. Here are what the steps look like:
- Cook pasta.
- Combine: Add beans, tomatoes, pesto, and balsamic vinegar to a large bowl.
- Toss: When pasta is done cooking, add that to the bowl and toss together.
That is it! This pasta is served warm and the heat from the pasta is what warms all of the ingredients. If you would prefer a hot pesto pasta then you can heat the beans in a saucepan or microwave until warmed through and then follow the rest of the recipe.
Best pasta to use
For this simple pasta, I really prefer shaped pasta like penne, ziti, and even bow-tie pasta when I make it. The tube-shaped pasta really holds the pesto well and the pesto gets into the middle of the pasta.
The bow tie pasta (also called Farfalle) is the next best thing to the tubed-shaped pasta since it has lots of areas for the pesto to cling to when it is tossed with it. If you are in a pinch, you can use other types of pasta like spaghetti but do try to use a pasta shape like I mentioned above for the best experience.
Best pesto to use
For this recipe, store-bought pesto from a jar (my favorite brand is Sacla) or homemade pesto works great. I have tried it both ways and it is delicious either way.
How to store
There are two things to think about here, storing the pesto and storing the pesto pasta. Storing the pasta is super easy.
Just make sure you cover tightly in a container with a lid in the fridge for up to 2 days. There will be a touch of discoloration from air reacting with the pesto but that is fine. This is purely aesthetic.
For storing pesto, whether it is jarred pesto or homemade pesto, you will want to drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the pesto and cover it tightly. Again, this helps prevent the discoloration of pesto AND keeps the pesto nice and fresh and from drying out.
To make a really delicious pasta with pesto, you want to add a little acid like balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to brighten the flavors. Mixing pesto pasta and tomatoes also helps.
Pesto goes really well with pasta, garlic bread, as a dip for veggies, or as a topping for meat.
If you are looking for things to serve with this pesto pasta, here are some ideas:
More easy Italian pasta recipes
If you love this easy recipe, you may also like:
Easy Pesto Pasta
- 1 lb penne pasta choose a shape that holds the pesto well like corkscrew or penne
- 1 cup store bought pesto or homemade pesto If you want to buy your pesto, I love Sacla brand which I find in the Italian section of the grocery store.
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 15 oz can of cannellini beans rinsed well and drained
- 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions1 lb penne pasta
- In a large bowl, combine the drained beans, pesto, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar1 cup store bought pesto or homemade pesto, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 15 oz can of cannellini beans rinsed well and drained, 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- When pasta is fully cooked, strain and add it to the bowl
- Toss pasta and ingredients together well to combine
- Taste for seasoning and see if salt or pepper is neededkosher salt and pepper to taste
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here
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