Vegetarian Pesto Pasta is a quick, easy, and delicious meal that you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less! Made easy with store-bought pesto, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, this is a simple weeknight pasta you'll make time and time again.
I read somewhere recently that if you make three meals and two snacks a day, that's 1825 times you have to prepare a meal in a year.
Listen, I love to cook. That should be obvious to anyone who is on this site.
But you know what else I love? Reading books. Doing yoga. Watching mindless TV. Drawing with my kids. You know, just living my life.
So as much as I'm willing to spend time peeling chickpeas or making homemade spelt pizza dough or even making pasta from scratch, there are just as many nights when I'm a big fan of cutting corners.
That's why I love having an arsenal of Quick and Easy meals in my back pocket. Things like Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Peas or Naan Bread Pizza that I can pull together in the same amount of time as it takes to watch an episode of Daniel Tiger.
This Vegetarian Pesto Pasta is another one of those recipes. It looks sophisticated enough to serve for a weekend dinner party, but it's just a matter of boiling some spaghetti, cracking a jar of store-bought pesto, and throwing some cherry tomatoes into the oven to roast.
Easy, delicious, and satisfying. That's what I'm talking about.
What's in Vegetarian Pesto Pasta?
Here's what you need, folks:
- Pasta --> I used spaghetti, but you can really use whatever you like.
- Pesto --> Store-bought is totally fine, but you could also use homemade or try my Kale and Walnut Pesto recipe.
- Cherry tomatoes --> We're going to roast those babies up!
- Fresh mozzarella --> I used mini mozza balls, but you could also chop up a big one.
- Fresh basil --> The best.
- Olive oil --> For roasting and drizzling.
- Parmesan --> For serving.
Nothing special here.
- A nice big pot for boiling the pasta
- A colander for draining
- An oven-proof dish for roasting the tomatoes
How do you make Vegetarian Pesto Pasta?
This one is so simple, my friends. I'm going to talk you through it step-by-step.
Step 1: Roast the tomatoes.
All you need to do here is put your whole cherry tomatoes in an oven-proof baking dish. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper before you sling 'em in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
Step 2: Cook the pasta
While the tomatoes are roasting you've got time to boil up a big pot of spaghetti. Make sure the water is well-salted before the pasta goes in.
And don't miss this very important step: Before you drain the pasta, be sure to scoop out a cup of pasta water. We'll be using this to loosen up the pesto in the next step.
Step 3: Add the pesto.
Add your pesto (either store-bought or homemade) to the spaghetti. Use a fork or a pair of tongs to toss well.
Step 4: Add the pasta water.
Add the pasta water bit by bit to the spaghetti and pesto. The salty, starchy pasta water not only adds flavour, but it helps to bind the pasta and sauce together. In this dish it loosens up the pasta but also helps to thicken the sauce.
Step 5: Serve!
Scoop the pesto pasta into serving bowls. Top with roasted tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, and fresh basil.
I also like to add a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan, but that's up to you.
Can this dish be made in advance?
While I do think Vegetarian Pesto Pasta tastes best freshly made, I've certainly enjoyed the leftovers on many occasions.
If you do want to make this dish in advance and re-heat it, I recommend that you store all of the components separately. So make the spaghetti al pesto and store it in one container, and store the roasted tomatoes and mozzarella balls each in their own containers.
When you're ready to serve, combine the pasta and tomatoes and re-heat individual dishes in the microwave. Top with mozzarella balls and fresh basil, and you're good to go.
To save time you could also make a batch of my Semi-Dried Tomatoes, which freeze beautifully, and toss them through the hot pasta.
Can I add X, Y, or Z?
You sure can!
Want to toss through some Mediterranean Roast Vegetables? Go for it! Some Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas for protein? Great idea!
If you've got a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters in the house, why not cook up a protein choice on the side and add as desired?
You do you!
Other recipes you might enjoy:
One-Pot Lemony Kale Noodles
Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Noodles
Instant Pot Pasta Sauce
Vegetarian Ravioli Bake
Orecchiette with Broccoli and Lemon
5-Minute Mac and Cheese for One
Vegetarian Pesto Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- 14 oz cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 14 oz dried spaghetti or other pasta
- 7 oz pesto store bought or homemade
- 6 oz mini mozzarella balls or one large ball diced up
- ½ bunch fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- salt and pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Place the tomatoes in an oven-proof baking dish and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the tomatoes into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until burst, juicy, and slightly browned.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of water to the boil, and salt it generously. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
- Before draining the pasta, scoop out one cup of pasta water and set aside.
- Drain the pasta in a colander.
- Return the drained pasta to the same pot. Add the pesto sauce, and stir to combine.
- Add the pasta water bit by bit, until the pesto pasta has reached a nice saucy consistency. You may not need all of it.
- Spoon pasta into bowls. Top with roasted tomatoes, mini mozzarella, and fresh basil. Serve.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- If you do want to make this dish in advance and re-heat it, I recommend that you store all of the components separately. So make the spaghetti al pesto and store it in one container, and store the roasted tomatoes and mozzarella balls each in their own containers.
- When you're ready to serve, combine the pasta and tomatoes and re-heat individual dishes in the microwave. Top with mozzarella balls and fresh basil, and you're good to go.
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