Simple to make, packed full of flavor, this recipe for Pesto Pasta Bites is a cute way to serve pasta as an appetizer! (And you can make it ahead too!)
This recipe for Pesto Pasta Bites is one of the first things I learned to make that didn’t come from my uber talented family. When I moved to California from the Midwest after college I pretty much stuck to all the things that I ate when I was growing up. If I made food at home Id make their recipes, although thinking back on it I’m pretty sure I went out for dinner a LOT when I was first out here.
Then I met Brenda who happened to be from my home state of Nebraska, coincidentally from a town very close to mine. We were destined to be friends and when we looked back at how often our paths had crossed we were surprised at how long it took us to meet. I think its funny we both had to move to California to become friends!
I drove out to her house one night and she made this Pesto Pasta recipe. I remember taking a bite and asking myself why have I never had this before. The pesto was made with all fresh ingredients and it tasted sooooooooooo good. And the bonus? She made it while we sat and talked for 15 minutes and drank wine. Yes, you can make this from start to finish in the time it takes to cook the pasta. That’s a winner in my book any day.
This Pesto Pasta Bites recipe changed my life. It was the first time that I wanted to cook versus going out to eat. Although my mom, dad, and grandmothers were great cooks in the kitchen, this recipe was the one that made me want to make new and different things.
I’ve served this various ways over the years both hot and cold, mostly with basil and walnuts. (Brenda’s original recipe called for pine nuts) but in a pinch you can sub any nut and other greens such as arugula, spinach, parsley…. the possibilities are endless.
I love that a simple dish can be served for a regular weeknight dinner or can be presented in a way that makes it seem super special by swirling it on forks and serving it on a pretty platter.
Pesto Pasta Bites Points of Interest:
Easy/Hard: Start water to boil, make pesto, boil pasta, mix. All finished in the time it takes to make the pasta! EASY!
Make Ahead: Absolutely, this dish can be warmed up easily, but also works great at room temperature!
Serving Suggestions: Bring this Pesto Pasta Bite recipe as a potluck contribution, serve it as the main course with a simple salad or serve as I have pictured swirled on forks as a filling appetizer at a cocktail party!
Cocktail Pairings: This pasta works well with any crisp white wine such as a Pinot Gris, or a lighter chardonnay (ask for one that doesn’t have a lot of oakiness in it.) Ive also served this with a Pinot Noir and loved it. The basil and garlic pair well with that. This would also pair well with the Sakitini Cocktail!
Other Ideas for Pesto: Use the Pesto Pasta Bite sauce as a spread with crackers or fresh cut vegetables. Its so flavorful it works very well as an appetizer. (if you want to try a different sauce for pasta to be served like this you could also use my Herby Sauce/Chimichuri recipe here to toss on the pasta!)
What is the SECRET TRICK to these Pesto Pasta Bites??
SECRET TRICK: When you drain the pasta, save about 1/2 a cup of the pasta water. When you are mixing the pesto with the pasta drizzle a little bit of that pasta water into the pan with the pasta and pesto sauce~~~ it helps make the pesto coat evenly to the pasta!
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- 1/2 Cup Walnuts
- 5-10 Cloved Garlic , peeled
- 1 cup Basil leaves , packed, stems removed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan Cheese
- 1/4- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1 pound Linguini or spaghetti
- Additional Grated Parmesan for sprinkling over top
- Small Basil leaves
- In a large pot bring water to boil to cook the pasta. Cook to al dente, then drain pasta saving 1/4 cup of the water for later.
- While pasta is cooking prepare pesto.
- In a Food Processor, pulse walnuts and garlic to small bits.
- Then add Basil leaves and pulse until well blended,
- Start with 1/4 cup of olive oil and slowly add to nut/basil/garlic mixture.
- Now add the grated parmesan cheese and pulse until combined evenly.
- If mixture seems to dry, add additional olive oil until it looks easily spreadable.
- Once Pasta is done cooking, drain and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
- Place pasta back in pot, then add pesto mix and stir to coat evenly. If the pesto isn't covering evenly, add in reserved pasta water a spoon at a time until it looks even.
- To serve on forks, swirl pasta around forks and place in a row on a serving platter.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese, small basil leaves and tomatoes.
- If serving as a pasta meal, put pesto pasta in serving bowl, sprinkle with parmesan and place a couple of tomatoes and basil leaves on top and serve.
- This dish works great at room temperature or hot!
All recipe calorie information was calculated on what I purchased to make this recipe in My Fitness Pal. When you make the recipe, the calorie content could vary depending on what specific ingredients/brands you actually use. Please take that into consideration if you are following a strict diet