Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.
It’s late summer and our basil plant is massive. We’ve got pesto coming out of our ears over here. The best way to make this tasty sauce into a fast and easy dinner? Pesto spaghetti! It’s herby, Parmesan-y, garlicky and always a crowd pleaser. We’ll show you the trick to getting a silky sauce covering all your noodles: no more gummy, dry pesto here! Serve them as is, or top with veggies or shrimp for a fast and easy dinner. Here’s what you need to know to make the best spaghetti pesto around!
Here’s the thing. You can make spaghetti pesto by simply mixing pesto with spaghetti. Ever done this and ended up with dry, gummy pasta? It’s a problem. The nuts and the cheese in the thick pesto sauce cling to the noodles if you don’t give them a little help.
It goes without saying that spaghetti pesto tastes the best with homemade pesto. The flavor here is beautifully fresh: and our pesto recipe has lemon for just the right zing! But we get it: basil isn’t always available. If you’re going storebought, go to the next section.
12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
2/3 cup basil pesto*
1/2 cup pasta water, plus more as needed
- Kosher salt
1 large handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
- Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
- Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Just before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta water! Then drain the pasta.
- Place the pasta in a bowl (not the pasta pot). Stir together the pasta, pesto, and 1/2 cup pasta water, tossing with tongs until the pesto is well distributed and the pasta water forms a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if desired. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and taste. If the flavor doesn’t pop, add a few more pinches until it does (the salt content in purchased pesto brands varies, as well as the amount of salt you used in the pasta water). Serve immediately.
- Store any leftovers refrigerated: note that pesto can get gummy when reheated, so it’s best to eat leftovers cold or room temp.