This pesto pasta recipe is made with soft, silky pappardelle pasta and classic Italian basil pesto (basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese) for the ultimate Italian meal. Both homemade or store-bought pasta will work!
When it comes to classic basil pesto, a typical pasta pairing would be fusilli, busiate or another twisted pasta shape reminiscent of a 1980’s telephone cord (remember land lines?). The herbaceous, summery pesto sauce naturally clings with ease.
But after experimenting with fresh homemade pasta, particularly pappardelle pasta, I fell in love with the unexpected combination of pesto with “ribbons.” In comparison to twisted pastas, the pesto sauce clings just as well, and the taste and texture is both silky and elegant. You can make this pesto pasta with homemade pappardelle (as I’ve done here) or store-bought. Either one will work.
What is Pappardelle Pasta?
Originating from Tuscany, pappardelle (pah-ppahr-dell-eh) are long, wide pasta ribbons about about 1 inch (2.5 cm) to 1 1/2- 2 inches (3.8-5 cm) wide. It’s typically served with rich, hearty sauces such as Ragù Bolognese. But as mentioned above, pappardelle pasta is surprisingly good with classic Italian basil pesto and this Sicilian stunner: pesto alla Trapanese. Pappardelle can be purchased in most grocery stores or Italian delis.
Pesto Pasta Ingredients:
- Fresh Pappardelle Pasta (homemade or store-bought)
- Classic Italian Basil Pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- Parmesan and/or Pecorino Cheese
- Pine nuts & fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Want bright green pesto? Chill your olive oil. Use small, baby basil leaves. Blend in batches. You’ll get the most beautiful, vibrant green color! For more details, read this post.
- New to homemade pasta? Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Fresh Homemade Pasta (with video!) for everything you need to know. If you like making bread, you’ll love making pasta.
- Make it ahead. The pesto sauce can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. Homemade pappardelle pasta can be made in the morning to cook later in the day.
- Serve warm, not hot. I actually prefer pesto pasta warm or at room temp. If it’s too hot, the pesto will turn black- it can oxidize quickly.
More Pasta Sauce Recipes To Try:
- Ragù Bolognese Sauce
- Aglio e Olio (Garlic and Oil)
- Quick Sicilian-Style Tomato Sauce
- Authentic Pomodoro Sauce (Fresh or Canned)
- Easy Golden Butter & Sage Pasta Sauce
- Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto)
This pesto pasta recipe is made with classic Italian basil pesto (basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese) and fresh pappardelle pasta. You can make the pappardelle pasta yourself, or use store-bought. Either option will work!
For the Basil Pesto
- 70 g (appx. 2 1/2 – 3 cups), small, basil leaves (see note)
- 1 fresh garlic clove, smashed and roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp. pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 6 tbsp. (packed) grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. (packed) grated Pecorino cheese
- Pinch fine sea salt
For the Pasta
Pesto Notes & Tips:
For the basil: choose small, baby basil leaves (Genovese variety). This is key. Grab a few potted plants if you cannot find this type of basil sold in bunches. The leaves should be small and curl under. They are tender and delicious!
Blend the pesto in batches, per the recipe. Doing so, paired with chilling the food processor or blender bowl, blade and olive oil, helps to prevent the basil from bruising and turning black. You’ll also achieve the best texture and flavor.
For the pesto, before you begin: Freeze the bowl and blade of your food processor (or blender) for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the olive oil for 30 minutes. This will prevent the basil from oxidizing.
- Add the garlic, pine nuts and 2 tbsp. of oil to the food processor. Pulse a few times until minced. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.Add the basil leaves and another 2 tbsp. of oil. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the cheeses.
- With the machine running, slowly stream in the rest of the olive oil and blend until creamy.
- Scrape the pesto into a bowl. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt (if needed). Stir in more olive oil to loosen the texture (if needed). It shouldn’t look like a thick glob.
- Cover and set aside at room temperature, if using right away. Or, transfer pesto to a small jar. Top with a layer of olive oil to prevent browning. Refrigerate until ready to use. It should last up to 1 week.
- For the Pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If using my homemade pappardelle recipe, cook the pasta for 5-7 minutes or until aldente. Alternatively, if using store-bought fresh pasta, just following the cooking time listed on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta; add to a large bowl.
- To serve, toss the pasta with some of the pesto, adding more sauce as you go. Thin the consistency with some of the reserved pasta water, if needed. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts and cheese (optional).
Keywords: pesto, pasta, easy, recipe, homemade, Italian, Pesto alla Genovese, classic, pappardelle, fresh, homemade, pasta