An Easy Vegetarian Red Pesto Pasta Recipe
An irresistibly tasty, creamy and garlicy red pesto pasta; ready to eat in just 15 minutes. Perfect as an easy mid-week meal or a mouth-watering lunch idea. Find out how to make this vegetarian pesto pasta below.
Whenever I want a quick and easy meal, chances are I’m making this red pesto pasta recipe. It’s the perfect recipe for busy lives and has always been one of my go-to pasta dishes. It’s both creamy and luscious and the perfect dinner for my fellow garlic lovers. This homemade red pesto pasta is a must-have recipe to keep in your arsenal, it’s a vegetarian dish but you can also add proteins like chicken breast if you like.
When I first started making pesto pasta (many years ago), I would always use green pesto. On a whim I decided to buy red pesto instead and I found it to taste so much better. This is the pesto pasta recipe you didn’t know you needed! Rigatoni pasta is coated in a creamy red pesto and garlic sauce. It’s so simple to put together, you only need a few ingredients and this recipe is so versatile.
What’s The Difference Between Red And Green Pesto?
Red pesto is a blend of sundried tomatoes and/or red peppers, basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and cheeses such as parmesan. Whereas green pesto is made without sundried tomatoes or red peppers, hence why it has a green appearance.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
An Easy Mid-Week Meal: This red pesto pasta is a mid-week meal that is super easy to make and a meal you’ll actually want to eat. It’s very simple to put together, you only need to boil your pasta and make the sauce which takes 15 minutes including prep time.
No Special Equipment: This recipe only requires two pans to make this pasta dish. Yay to hardly any washing up to do! You’ll need one pan to boil your pasta and another to make the pasta sauce.
So Versatile: This pasta dish as it stands is vegetarian, but when I have a bit more time on my hands I’ll pair it with meatballs, prawns or chicken. It tastes so good on its own but I also love it accompanied with meat.
My Top Tips
Here are my top tips to making red pesto pasta, it’s easy to make already but these tips will make it even easier!
When making the pasta sauce, if you notice that the mixture is starting to splatter lower the temperature to avoid the pesto sauce flying everywhere. I often start on a medium heat but will reduce the temperature down if the mixture starts to splatter.
I love using rigatoni pasta, the shapes fit-in perfectly for this pasta dish. As rigatoni pasta are hollow in the middle, it allows room for the creamy red pesto sauce to go inside. So when you bite into it the pesto sauce oozes out.
I used red pesto from a jar, that’s what makes this pasta recipe so quick and so easy with hardly any washing-up to do. Check your local supermarket for the pesto they have on sale, there are a wide variety and any will be fine to use. Some may be made with pine nuts or walnuts and some may have extra cheese. Browse around to see what type of pesto you would like to use.
Cook your pasta al dente, which means to boil the pasta until its cooked but still firm. When the pasta is tossed in the red pesto sauce it will cook further. Hence why we don’t want to over boil the pasta as it will soften and start to break apart.
If the pasta boils before your sauce is ready, drain the water and add a splash of oil to stop the pasta from sticking together. You can use olive oil; I also like to use sesame oil.
Below are the ingredients you need to make red pesto pasta:
- Single Cream: This is what makes this pesto pasta so creamy and indulgent. The single cream is mixed into the garlic and pesto base until combined, then the cooked pasta is added.
- Garlic: Garlic provides flavour to the dish and is so aromatic.
- Seasonings: Black pepper and salt are sprinkled on the sauce to add extra flavour.
- Pasta: I used rigatoni pasta, one of the best pastas to use as the sauce fills into the hollow areas. Penne pasta and farfalle are good alternatives.
- Red Pesto: I’m always making this red pesto pasta recipe on really busy days, hence why I use red pesto from a jar. It’s so much easier and also tastes good.
What Is Red Pesto Made Of?
You can make your own homemade red pesto.
Red pesto sauce is made of blended sundried tomatoes and/or red peppers, basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan. Each red pesto recipe differs and is based on preference, for example some use pine nuts, others use walnuts or both.
How To Make Red Pesto Pasta
Below are step-by-step pictures on how to make this recipe, full instructions and ingredients are on the recipe card at the bottom.
Boil the rigatoni pasta in a large pan on a medium to high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or according to packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is boiling, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and place 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the onions for 1 to 2 minutes or until softened.
Add 2 tablespoons of garlic to the pan and stir for 30 seconds.
Add 3 tablespoons of red pesto into the frying pan and stir for 30 seconds. If you notice the mixture is starting to splatter, lower the temperature.
Add single cream to the mixture and stir until the colour starts to redden before adding salt and pepper and mix until evenly distributed.
Leave the pesto sauce to simmer on a low heat whilst you drain the pasta. Add the pasta into the frying pan with the pesto sauce and mix until the sauce has coated the pasta.
What Do You Eat Red Pesto Pasta With?
You can eat this red pesto pasta alone, but there are many side dishes you can serve this recipe alongside. For example, I love roasting tenderstem broccoli to serve with red pesto pasta, you could also serve with roasted carrots and boiled broccoli.
Pasta and garlic bread go so well together! For the garlic lovers out there, this recipe is packed with garlic and would be even more garlicy served with yummy garlic bread.
Want to switch up this recipe? Here are a few suggestions below:
- Make It Vegan: Make this red pesto pasta vegan by omitting the single cream in this recipe. If you still want a creamy pasta sauce, you can try vegan single cream alternatives.
- Add Chorizo And Spinach: Chorizo is a seasoned type of pork sausage, it’s smoky and will be a tasty addition paired with spinach.
- Change The Pasta Shape: There are so many different pastas out there, you can use your favourite pasta or a pasta shape you’ve never tried before.
How Long Does This Recipe Keep?
This recipe will last for 3 to 5 days stored in the fridge in an air-tight container. This recipe makes a great meal prep idea for lunch or dinner throughout the week.
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Red Pesto Pasta Recipe | 15 Minutes & So Creamy
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 500 g Rigatoni Pasta
- 300 ml Single Cream
- 3 tbsp Red Pesto
- 2 tbsp Garlic Paste
- ½ Onion Chopped
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Handful Basil Leaves Optional
- Boil the rigatoni pasta in a large pan on a medium to high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or according to packet instructions.
- Whilst the pasta is boiling, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and place 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the onions for 1 to 2 minutes or until softened.
- Add 2 tablespoons of garlic to the pan and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add 3 tablespoons of red pesto into the frying pan and stir for 30 seconds. If you notice the mixture is starting to spit, lower the temperature.
- Add single cream to the mixture and stir until the colour starts to redden before adding salt and pepper and mix until evenly distributed.
- Leave the pesto sauce to simmer on a low heat whilst you drain the pasta. Add the pasta into the frying pan with the pesto sauce and mix until the sauce has coated the pasta.