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Pasta is a weakness of mine and I love trying out new pasta dishes that are hearty and nutritious. This Pesto Caprese Penne Pasta is packed full of protein, fiber, and delicious mix ins for a fast and easy dinner!
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Penne Pesto Pasta
One of my favorite things about pesto pasta is the amount of flavor that you get out of a few fresh ingredients.
I love to amp my pesto up with some extra garlic and lemon juice for a bold flavor. These flavors remind me of living in Italy where they make so many meals with simple, fresh ingredients.
It is appropriate that so many Italian foods have the same colors as the Italian flag: red, white, and green. Some say it is because of the food, and others say the colors represent various aspects and geographic areas of the country.
Regardless, the colors are so pretty together in a dish! I did not want to mix the pasta at first because I was admiring the colors all next to each other 🙂
What is penne al pesto?
This is a simple and fresh Italian pasta recipe. Penne pasta is tossed with a fresh basil pesto sauce.
What pasta goes with pesto?
Anything with ridges and curves is great to help the sauce stick to the noodles. Penne is a perfect option and easy to find!
Other shapes with ridges and curves like cavatappi, rotini, or gemelli are also great options.
Ingredients Needed for Penne Pesto
Here is what you need to make this pasta, including the homemade basil pesto:
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Parsley
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Pine Nuts (although walnuts will work too!)
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Penne Pasta
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
- Fresh Mozzarella
How to Make Penne Pesto
This Pesto Caprese Penne Pasta is incredibly simple and fast to make, making it perfect for busy nights when you still want a hearty and nutritious meal.
First, get your pasta boiling.
Then make the pesto in a food processor and prepare the mix ins of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella perline, and sliced fresh basil.
When the pasta is ready, toss everything to combine and dinner is served!
Do you serve pesto pasta hot or cold?
You can serve this either way!
I prefer hot but it also tastes just as great cold and would make a fun pasta salad.
Can I put pesto pasta in the fridge?
Yes! I have found that if made in advance or if eating as leftovers that the sauce gets absorbed a little into the pasta and it becomes a little dry.
So spruce it up with just a little water or a little more oil before heating (if serving hot) or if serving cold.
How do you pronounce penne?
It is pronounced peh-neh.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add the pasta and cook as per package directions to al dente, approximately 11 minutes. When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto. Toast the pine nuts over medium low heat until just starting to turn a golden brown.
- In a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients together. Process until you reach your desired consistency. Season to taste with additional salt, lemon, garlic, or red pepper flakes.
- Slice the tomatoes in half into bite sized pieces. Slice the 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves from the pasta ingredient list into thin slices.
- Return the cooked pasta, pesto sauce, tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil to the large cooking pot (or in a large bowl). Toss to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce for even coating. Serve immediately.