Simpler summer days call for a simple summer recipe and nothing’s simpler than a basic Pesto Pasta Recipe that even a 9 year old could work up.

Or clean up.

Pesto Pasta Recipe |

Today I spent a good chunk of time teaching Smudge one of the finer skills in life. One that will take her far in life.

Today we spent some quality time learning how to do the dishes.

To her doing dishes is still fun. She gets to wear an apron. She dips her hands into the bubbles and blows them around the kitchen leaving soap spots all over my wine glasses. And she giggles and sings and twirls about to whichever song is on replay over and over in her head.

Pesto Pasta Recipe |

While it seems like my daughter should very well already know how to do this as a almost 4th grader, I’ve noticed her mad skillz slipping of late. It was time to hit the basics again before I sent her off to another school year where the very real possibility of her report of what she learned this summer could possibly include scrubbing the dinner dishes.

Because sometimes the basics are really what’s needed. And craved. Like a basic pesto pasta just yearning for a twirl around the silver twines.

Pesto Pasta Recipe |

I like this pesto pasta plain.

Pesto Pasta Recipe |

I’ll take it with fresh to-maters sliced on top.

Pesto Pasta Recipe |

And I totally dig it with an extra douse of salty parmesan cheese.

See, the best part of a basic recipe is the opportunity to doctor it up any which way you see fit and learn to like a little something new.

I’ve made homemade pesto many times. And many times I’ve totally screwed it up. Why? Because I didn’t keep it basic. Here’s what I learned:

Don’t add any more garlic. You’ll totally ruin the herbacious flavor if you turn it into a vampirefest and it will turn the sauce into tin. Seriously, I’ve done it.

Be sure to pulse your food processor or blender when chopping the herbs. This will keep it a fresh green color rather than a murky, bottom of the pond color.

Use a fresh and fruity olive oil for the lightest flavor.

Because the flavors are so simple, use the best you can afford and fresh, leafy herbs always shine the most.

Out of pine nuts or simply can’t afford them? Walnuts, marcona almonds and even pistachios are a tasty alternative.

Pesto Pasta Recipe
Serves: serves 6 as a main course, 8-10 as a side dish
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other favorite noodle
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed and finely packed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into large slices
  1. Cook the spaghetti or other pasta in large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, combine garlic cloves and pine nuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped. Add basil and olive oil and pulse just until a paste forms. Add cheeses, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
  3. Toss the hot pasta with the pesto in a large bowl and add reserved cooking water ¼ cup at a time or until saucy. Top with fresh tomato slices, season with more salt and pepper and garnish with more parmesan cheese.

Bored with pasta? There’s plenty of ways to use pesto in a variety of dishes besides the basic pasta.

  • Dollop on a baked potato instead of butter
  • Use as a spread instead of mayo for a turkey sandwich
  • Make it a savory addition to your morning omelette
  • Mix with tuna for a mediterranean style salad on greens
  • Plop into a creamy tomato soup with chunks of mozzarella cheese for a slurpy caprese

Need a few more ideas. We’ve got that covered. Check it.


Pesto breaks down the confines of pasta and moves onto potatoes in Erin’s savory breakfast treat in Naturally Ella’s Pesto Potato Skillet.


Pillows of puff make for the perfect nestle spot for toasted almond pesto and fresh cherry tomatoes in Heather’s obsession with Flourishing Foodie’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Basil Pesto Puff Pastry Tarts.


Decadent. Pure decadence I tell you, thanks to this special occasion or maybe it’s Tuesday dish of Marie’s Lobster Cannelloni with Pesto, Rosé Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts from Food Nouveau.


Laura takes us back to the basics, but with a twist thanks to Fork Knife Swoon’s Soba Noodles with Lemony Kale Pesto. I’m so dousing my next soba adventure in this.


Amy creates another souped up rendition of basic basil pesto by adding one of our favorite ingredients in She Wears Many Hats Creamy Pesto Pasta.


Scape? What in the heck is a scape? Laicie shares the dish on these garlicky little onion style veggies in A Thousand Threads’ Garlic Scape Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Grilled Cheese.


From scape and now onto ramps. We’re going organically trendy now with Melissa leading the parade thanks to her recreation of a favorite meal with The Faux Martha’s Ramp Pesto Ravioli.


Pesto, shrimp, cheese. Kevin goes all in when he takes the kitty with Closet Cooking’s Pesto Grilled Shrimp Caprese Quesadillas.

Happy pesto eating!

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