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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!
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.
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes) (halved)
- 8 ounces mozzarella perline
- 1 1/4 cup basil pesto (recipe below, or your favorite pesto)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves thinly sliced, for tossing with the pasta
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh parsley (or spinach, or kale)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 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.
14 thoughts on “Pesto Caprese Penne Pasta”
Such a delicious looking pasta salad! I don’t like mayo so this would be a perfect option for me!
Love the combination of pesto and caprese in this dish! Going to pin for later!
They really are great together! I hope you love it!
I will be trying this tonight and will share the results
Made this last night and after your mention about adding meat if you wanted, I added chicken. It was absolutely beautiful looking and the flavors were wonderful. Thank you! This recipe is a keeper.
Thank you so much, Monica! I am so glad you liked it! Definitely one of my favorites 🙂
Superb! Great recipe
Is it 1 pound of uncooked or cooked pasta? The recipe says it makes 4 servings, which is a lot if it’s 1 pound of dry pasta. Can someone clarify? I’m a novice cook and rely heavily on recipes so this detail is not obvious to me lol. Thank you in advance. This looks like a tasty recipe!
It is one pound uncooked. If you are using protein pasta, it is much more filling. I also find the recipe, regardless of pasta type, is very filling when you add the cheese and tomatoes to it. Feel free to make more if you want to make sure you have enough!
Make it all the time!!! We love it! Thank you
That is wonderful! I am so glad you like it! 😀
Just made this. It was SO good!!!!!!!!!!!!
So glad you liked it! 🙂