Perfect Penne Pesto Pasta Recipe is one of those easy meals to make at home that tastes amazing. You just need to know a couple of secrets to get that restaurant-quality flavor.
Have you had pesto pasta at home that didn’t taste as good as you’ve had in a restaurant? Yours had a more robust pesto and oil flavor, but the restaurant’s pesto tasted rich and creamy.
I know that happened to me. Simple ingredients changed the flavor of my creamy pesto sauce and made it restaurant-quality. I had to share this recipe with you because now you can make it perfectly, just like you were a professional chef in Italy.
Cooking is easy as long as you have the right recipe and fresh ingredients. Pesto penne pasta will make a great side dish, or you can add chopped cooked chicken breasts or grilled shrimp and make this a wonderful dinner with a side salad.
Adding sautéed vegetables to penne pesto pasta is my favorite way to make this recipe. Simply sauté the vegetables in another pan and mix them in with the pasta at the end.
I have a link to the homemade pesto sauce I used (which is part of this recipe), but if you’re pressed for time, feel free to use store-bought pesto.
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Here’s the Perfect Penne Pesto Pasta Recipe
Ingredients for Creamy Pesto Penne Pasta
4 quarts filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
16 ounces penne pasta
1 cup pesto
1/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Directions for Making Penne Pesto Pasta Recipe
- Bring water to boil in a large stockpot.
- Add the salt and uncooked penne pasta to the boiling water and stir until the pasta is submerged.
- Boil the penne pasta until the pasta is done (approximately 12 minutes).
- Reserve two tablespoons of the cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- Return pasta to the stockpot.
- Combine pesto, cream, and reserved starchy pasta water in a bowl and mix well.
- Pour the pasta sauce into the large pot and toss.
- Serve pesto penne pasta on plates or bowls and add freshly ground Parmesan cheese to the top and black pepper to taste.
Penne Pasta Recipe with Pesto and Nutrition Facts
Perfect Creamy Penne Pesto Pasta is one of the easiest recipes to make at home that tastes amazing. You just need to learn a couple secrets to get that restaurant quality taste.
- 4 quarts filtered water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- 1 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Bring water to boil in a large stockpot.
- Add the pasta and salt and stir until the pasta is emerged
- Boil the penne pasta until done (approximately 12 minutes)
- Reserve two tablespoons of pasta water and then drain water.
- Return pasta to stockpot.
- Combine the pesto, cream, and reserved water and mix together.
- Pour creamy pesto mixture in stockpot and toss.
- Place pasta on plates and add freshly grated Parmesan cheese and pepper to taste on top of the pasta.
Amount Per Serving Calories 576Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 26gCholesterol 38mgSodium 2762mgCarbohydrates 41gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 14g
Tips for cooking perfect pasta
- Use one gallon of water for each pound of pasta.
- Bring the water to boil before putting pasta in. Cover the pot to make the water boil faster.
- Cook uncovered over medium heat, and stir often for the first couple of minutes. Stir every few minutes after that.
- Use the recommended time for cooking length on the package directions.
- Check for doneness by biting into a piece of pasta. It should be tender, but slightly firm in the center.
- When the pasta is ready, drain in a colander without rinsing (unless recipe calls for it).
Tips for Making Penne Pasta with Pesto
- You can substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese in this simple recipe.
- To make a more creamy sauce, add cream cheese to the recipe.
- Add fresh baby spinach to the sauce while cooking for an added nutritional boost.
- Sautéed vegetables in extra virgin olive oil like chopped red peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes are great options to take this delicious pasta dish to the next level.
- Alternative pastas will also work in this recipe.
- Add garlic powder or chili flakes to this creamy pesto pasta for more flavor.
Make Your Own Homemade Pesto Sauce
Making your own pesto sauce always tastes better. This recipe is made in a food processor with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Here you will find my Easy Pesto Recipe.
I wrote an article on what to do with leftover pesto. You can find it here.
How long does this Pesto Pasta Recipe last in the fridge?
When properly stored in an airtight container, pesto penne pasta will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Now that you read the recipe, you’ve probably realized the secret to making an amazing pasta dish is the heavy cream. I found this recipe in the Longaberger Fresh From the Pantry Cookbook.
Longaberger is a company that specialized in artisan baskets. They had a restaurant at their location and the recipes in the book are from that restaurant.
The great thing about this recipe is if you like more pesto flavor change the ratio to less cream. If you like a lighter pesto taste, add less pesto.
We’ve reached the end of Perfect Penne Pesto Pasta. If you make this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Be sure to join the Creating a Cozy Life Group. You’re not going to believe how amazing it is!
I created a pin for Penne Pesto Pasta below so you can add it to your dinner ideas Pinterest board.
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More Pasta Recipes for You to Try
To find out more about basil, I wrote a post called Interesting Facts About Basil.