Spaghetti pesto is a simple, beautiful and easy to make pasta dish.  Other than the pasta itself, there is almost no cooking involved, and the simple ingredients come together to make a pasta sauce that is packed full of flavor, is well balance, and is clean and elegant.  The dish is great for guests, because not only does it tend to impress, but it's really simple to make, and much of the work can be done ahead of time.  Pesto also freezes well, so you can make a large batch, store it in the fridge and break it out when you’d like.  In this recipe video, I show you how to make a basil-almond pesto and toss it with some spaghetti to make the perfect spaghetti pesto.

RECIPE FOR SPAGHETTI PESTO

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

  1. Pesto, being uncooked, really relies on great ingredients, and good balance.  Make sure your basil is fresh, the almonds and garlic in good shape, and taste as you go.  Don’t rely solely on the quantities below; adjust as needed
  2. Reserve some of the pasta water before you drain off the pasta.  You may not need it, but if you find your finished pasta is dry, adding some of that water is a great way to loosen it up a bit
  3. Don’t overcook the pasta – start tasting a few minutes before it “should” be done, to make sure it’s al dente

Ingredients for Spaghetti Pesto

  • Fresh basil -  2 cups loose packed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • One lemon – for a squeeze juice
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Handful of almonds – maybe a 1/4 of a cup
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 Pound of spaghetti

To make the Pesto

  • Blanch the basil leaves in a pot of boiling salted water for about 30 seconds to cook them; remove them and cool under cold water to set the color; dry them on a paper towel
  • Combine the basil, garlic, cheese, nuts, a small squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a blender and pulse until combined.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning or any ingredient as needed
  • Remove to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent color loss

To make the Spaghetti Pesto

  • Cook your pasta in boiling salted water until just al dente
  • Put your pasta bowls into a 250 degree oven to warm
  • Once the pasta is cooked, reserve some of the pasta water, then drain the spaghetti
  • Put the spaghetti into a mixing bowl, and add about 3 tablespoons of the pesto sauce, a good drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper
  • Toss to combine. If needed you can add some more pesto, or oil.
  • If the spaghetti has the consistency you like, you’re ready to serve. If it looks dry, drizzle in the reserved pasta water a bit at a time and toss to combine
  • Remove your pasta bowls from the oven, and serve (I like to use warm bowls for dishes that don’t come right off the stove but it’s not completely necessary)

That’s it.  After you make it one or two times, you can make the pesto sauce while the spaghetti cooks and have this dish on the table in about 20 minutes start to finish.  Hope you enjoy it.

Total Time: 
35minutes
Prep Time: 
15minutes
Cook Time: 
20minutes
Cuisine: 
Main Ingredient: 
Pasta