Easy Spinach Pesto Pasta
Spinach pesto pasta is the easiest main or side dish! You can serve it on its own or with roasted veggies, chicken, steak, or fish, or shrimp!
I’ve made spinach pesto pasta about a million times now.
While you’ve got a pot of water boiling for the pasta, you can quickly put together a batch of spinach pesto if your food processor. Toss it all together with a splash of pasta water and you’ve got what I like to call one of my favorite weeknight, veggie-disliking-hubby approved dinner recipes.
It’s not often that I make a recipe frequently once it passes the recipe testing phase. Let’s face it, it’s both a perk and a hazard of the job to have to move on. But, I find myself gravitating towards spinach pesto pasta often in the summertime. It works great as a side for my tomato baked chicken or as a side for steak and shrimp.
You won’t believe how quickly a whole pound of pasta disappears when you coat it in this quick pesto!
Ingredients for spinach pesto pasta:
- Prepared spinach pesto: It’s become a standard refrigerator item for me lately. You could also use basil pesto for this recipe and it will work equally well!
- Pasta: I prefer to use linguine here but honestly any short or long shape of pasta will do. You could use farfalle, shells, fussili col buco, cavatelli, orecchiette, or even tortellini!
- Reserved pasta water: Pasta water is the starchy water that you’re left with after boiling pasta. The salty, starchy water is perfect to make a sauce with the pesto and it helps coat the pasta beautifully.
- Shaved pecorino or parm: This is optional but a generous shaving of pecorino or parmesan cheese really adds delicious flavor right at the end.
How to make spinach pesto pasta:
- Cook the pasta, save the water. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously so that it tastes like the sea. Then cook the pasta according to package directions. This will vary greatly based on the shape of pasta you used. Once the pasta is cooked, you want to reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Make sure to not rinse the pasta, you don’t want to get rid of that salty coating!
- Toss with the pesto. Add the pasta to a large bowl or the same pot that you prepared the pasta in. Toss with the pesto and about ⅓ cup of pasta water. Once combined, add more pasta water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency. I like to use about ½ cup or so in total however this is totally up to you. Taste and adjust with additional salt if it needs it but keep in mind the grated pecorino or parmesan will provide a bit more salt!
Best tips for spinach pesto pasta:
- Don’t forget to serve pasta water! Regular water won’t provide the same creamy texture that starchy, salty pasta water will.
- Toss the pasta with pesto immediately. You want to do this while the pasta is still hot so that the hot pasta water and pasta really release the flavors of the pesto.
- Don’t be afraid to cheese is up. Give it a good few shavings of pecorino or parmesan! Sometimes I like to add it in while I’m combining the pesto, pasta, and water so that the cheese starts to melt and really gets into the nooks and crannies of the pasta!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- One-Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Simple, Comforting Homemade SpaghettiOs
- Creamy Paprika Chicken Pasta
- Deliciously Easy Cacio e Pepe
- Lemon Basil Arugula Pasta Salad
- 1 recipe prepared spinach pesto (see notes)
- 1 lb. linguine (or other pasta shapes)
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Pecorino or parmesan, for serving
- PASTA: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously. When the pot returns to boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining; do not rinse the pasta.
- TOSS: Place the pasta back into the saucepan (or a medium bowl) add the prepared pesto and roughly ⅓ cup of water. Toss the pasta with pesto using a pair of tongs, add more pasta water as needed to make a sauce that’s thin but still clings to the pasta. Serve warm topped with additional pecorino if desired; enjoy!