Pesto Pasta Yum
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  • Food: Pesto Pasta
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

This quick and simple recipe will teach you how to make pesto pasta. It’s one of our favorite midweek dishes because of its vibrant, robust flavors.

This year, the first snowfall in Chicago arrived early. We were en route to an appointment in early November.

When the snow began falling, it suddenly changed from being “very charming” to “wow, it’s coming down!” We waited in the chilly car for much too long, looking at the sky and brake lights while donning far too thin coats. Really, what have we done, I wondered.

We’ve relocated so far from the sun, I maintain a blog on veggies, and I’m currently writing a book that will be released before May (when the spring farmers’ markets open)!

We arrived at our destination, an industrial sector in the Pullman neighborhood, where Gotham Greens is located on the roof of the Method production facility.

Since discovering their delightfully peppery arugula earlier this year, I’ve been completely enamored with their organic greens that are farmed nearby.

Even though it was bitterly cold and dismal outside, their rooftop greenhouse was incredibly warm and sunny. The most delicate butter lettuces, my favorite spicy arugula, and the most lovely aroma of fresh basil were all present.

Pesto Pasta
Food: Pesto Pasta (Source: Love and Lemons)

Later that evening, with plenty of greens in the refrigerator and not much else in the cupboard, I prepared my go-to quick & simple dinner: this five-minute pesto pasta.

Nothing tops pasta when it comes to combining strong taste and simple preparation, and we weren’t about to venture outside into the snow for any further items.

Pasta with Pesto: Making It

Making pesto pasta is simple, as I previously stated. All you have to do is this:

  1. Make a batch of my six-ingredient basil pesto or, in a need, buy premade pesto.
  2. In a sizable pot of salted, boiling water, prepare your pasta as directed on the package.
  3. Save some of the starchy pasta water before draining the noodles. Then, whisk to thin the pesto by adding 1/4 cup of this pasta water back into the pot.
  4. Then add the cooked pasta and stir until it is well coated in pesto.
  5. Add a generous bunch of arugula and stir until it just begins to wilt.
  6. Add a generous squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and toasted pine nuts to finish everything off.

Dig in!

Recipe Advice for Pesto Pasta

Have you never prepared spaghetti with pesto? Here are some pointers to get you going:

  • Save a little pasta water. My top pesto pasta advice! The pesto will get enough liquefied by the salty, starchy pasta water to create a thin sauce for the spaghetti. This water will result in a more flavorful, thicker pesto sauce than plain water would because of its salty, starchy characteristics.
  • At the last minute, add the greens. I prefer my greens to be somewhat wilted rather than completely limp. Serve them immediately, while they still have a little crunch and brilliant color, after tossing them in at the very last minute so that the hot pasta may wilt them.
  • Adjust to taste. Pestos range in brightness, saltiness, and overall flavor intensity, so taste your finished dish before serving and make any necessary adjustments. To make your pesto pasta sing, you might need to add a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of salt, or a generous dash of black pepper, depending on your pesto.

Variations on Pesto Pasta Recipe

Like other easy recipes, this one is enjoyable to experiment with. Here are some suggestions to spice things up:

  • Are no pine nuts available? Replace them with almonds or walnuts.
  • Replace the arugula at the end of the dish with spinach or kale, or omit the greens entirely.
  • For a change during the colder months, consider using kale pesto instead of basil.
  • Add some fresh or roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, or asparagus as a garnish to the finished dish.
  • Add a few tiny mozzarella balls or a few capers.
  • Use spaghetti squash in its place, or substitute your preferred pasta shape.

Easy Pesto Pasta

15 minutes to prepare
10 minutes for cooking
Time Spent: 25 minutes

Serves This wonderful vegetarian midweek dinner of pesto pasta is quick and simple to make. I like to include a handful of arugula, but you are welcome to omit it or substitute your preferred soft greens.


  • 6 ounces spaghetti, reserve 1/2 cup starchy pasta water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup basil pesto or vegan pesto
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Fresh lemon juice, as desired
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Pinches of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan


Pesto Pasta
Food: Pesto Pasta (Source: Love and Lemons)
  1. According to the guidelines on the package or until the pasta is al dente, cook the pasta in a big pot of salted boiling water. Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid. After draining, mix the spaghetti with a little touch of olive oil.
  2. Add the pesto and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to a large skillet over very low heat and whisk to mix. If more pasta water is required to make a loose sauce, add it along with the pasta and toss it to coat. The thickness of your pesto will determine how much water is required.
  3. Turn off the heat. Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Add the arugula next, tossing until just beginning to wilt. Serve after adding the pine nuts and red pepper flakes as garnish.