Calling all pesto lovers! You'll want to make this pasta dish with easy homemade basil pesto this summer!
It's no secret I'm a HUGE pasta lover. Give me a pasta recipe that's easy and done in under an hour? Yes please!
There's so much flavor in this dish. Whole wheat pasta tossed with fresh basil pesto, burst cherry tomatoes, caramelized balsamic onions, kalamata olives, toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese. It's savory. salty, and screams "Mediterranean"!
I love making this pasta on a breezy, sunny summer evening, and enjoying it on the patio with a glass of wine or rose. Trust me when I say you'll be travelling with your palette to a terrace in Santorini!
Basil Pesto Pasta With Burst Cherry Tomatoes Ingredients
To make this dish, you'll need:
Pasta of choice - I like to use a long pasta like whole wheat spaghettini, but any kind of pasta will do.
Fresh basil - Lots and lots of fresh basil! If you're unable to get your hands on basil, you can try parsley, arugula, spinach, or a mix of fresh leafy herbs.
Parmesan cheese - both for the basil pesto sauce, and for serving.
Walnuts - same as the parm.
Good olive oil - extra virgin if you have it.
Lemon juice - for some "zing".
Garlic - what's a pasta dish without garlic?
Cherry tomatoes - I love using mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and sweet flavor.
Red onions - White onions will work just fine, too, but I like the extra color red onions bring to the dish.
Balsamic vinegar - To add extra sweetness to the caramelized onions.
Kalamata olives - for a salty and meaty kick.
Oregano, salt and pepper - to help enhance the flavors.
How to Make Basil Pesto Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
This dish has a few steps, but is well worth it and super easy!
Step 1) Make the basil pesto
The basil pesto can be made ahead of time in just a few minutes by blending fresh basil, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil with a pinch of salt in a food processor until completely smooth.
Tip: Use packed cups of basil to get the most flavor! You may also use a mix of fresh herbs - like parsley, arugula or spinach - if you can't find fresh basil.
Step 2) Prepare the tomatoes
Mix the cherry tomatoes with garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil in an oven safe dish. Roast in a preheated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes until tomatoes shrivel and burst. Alternatively, you can prepare the tomatoes on the stovetop or grill.
Step 3) Make the caramelized onions
As the tomatoes are roasting, make the caramelized onions. Caramelizing your onions is a slow process, but so worth it! The humble onion is slowly transformed into a sweet, flavor-enhancing powerhouse that can be used in anything from pasta, pizza, soups or sandwiches!
Start by slicing your onions thinly. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat (this is key so you don't burn your onions!). Then, add your sliced onions in an even layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and toss to coat.
You'll need to stir often until the onions soften and darken in color. This will take about 20 minutes (for caramelized onions that still have some bite) to 40 minutes (for a jammier consistency). Add a splash of water to the pan if the onions start to burn.
Finally, add a splash of balsamic vinegar during the last 10 minutes of cooking and stir. The onions will absorb all of the delicious flavor and taste out-of-this-world!
Step 4) Cook your pasta
By the end of the recipe, cook your pasta according to package directions. I like to use whole wheat pasta, but you can use regular pasta or another variety that you like. For this recipe, you’ll need about 375 grams of dry pasta, and I like to use a longer pasta variety like spaghettini, fettuccini or tagliatelle!
Don't forget to reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to help thin your sauce if needed! The starch in the pasta water will help thin the basil pesto sauce and help it coat the pasta better.
Step 5) Assemble
Drain your pasta and transfer back to your pot. Add all of the basil pesto. Thin with a splash of pasta water if needed. Then top with roasted cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, pitted and halved kalamata olives, chopped walnuts, extra grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs like basil or parsley!
I recommend topping your pasta with the ingredients rather than mixing them in directly - so the tomatoes keep their shape.
You can certainly elevate this dish with other in-season vegetables, such as:
Grilled zucchini, aubergine or bell peppers
Spinach, arugula or baby kale
If you'd like to make this a complete meal on it's own, add a source of protein like:
White cannellini beans
Basil Pesto Pasta With Burst Cherry Tomatoes
Servings: Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: 45 minutes
Basil Pesto Ingredients:
1/3 cup walnuts, plus more for serving
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 package (375g) dry spaghettini pasta
4 cups whole cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, halved
Salt and pepper
Make the basil pesto. In a food processor, add basil leaves, walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
Roast the cherry tomatoes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In an oven-safe dish, add tomatoes, minced garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Stir to combine. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes shrivel and burst.
While tomatoes are roasting, make the caramelized onions. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions in an even layer and top with a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Continue cooking, stirring every so often, until onions soften and darken in color, about 20-40 minutes. If the onions start to burn, add a splash of water and stir. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and stir. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta.
Assemble your pasta. In a large pot or bowl, combine pasta and all of the basil pesto. Stir to coat. Add a splash of pasta water to thin sauce as needed, and stir vigorously with tongs until evenly coated.
Divide pasta onto plates. Top with roasted cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions and olives. Garnish with basil, grated parmesan cheese and chopped walnuts. Enjoy.
Serving the Basil Pesto Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
I recommend topping your pesto pasta with the rest of the ingredients rather than mixing them in directly - so the tomatoes keep their shape.
Storing the Basil Pesto Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
This recipe is best served fresh, but any leftovers can certainly be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, and reheated in the microwave.
Did you make this recipe?
If you made this recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Be sure to take a photo and tag me @vguitard.nutrition so I can see!