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In just 15 minutes, you can cook a delicious and satisfying single serving of pesto pasta, an ideal recipe for busy weeknights or whenever you crave a quick and easy meal. This classic Italian dish is simple to make and perfect for lunch or dinner for one, offering the flexibility to customize it to your taste.

Pesto pasta, a versatile and flavorful dish, pairs wonderfully with various toppings such as crispy baked chicken tenders, succulent shrimp, or flaky baked salmon. For a balanced meal, serve it with a crisp green salad dressed in a homemade vinaigrette. Complement the pasta with a slice of warm, freshly baked French bread.

For those interested in more single serving main dish ideas, our collection offers a diverse range of recipes to explore.

Why You’ll Love This Quick Pesto Pasta Recipe

  • Ease of Preparation: This recipe is so simple and straightforward that even beginner cooks will find it easy to make.
  • Versatile Ingredient Options: You can adapt this recipe to accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences.
  • Quick Turnaround: Have a delicious meal ready in no more than 15 minutes.
  • Balanced Nutrition: This recipe packs a nutritious punch. Classic pesto is filled with antioxidants. It contains garlic, basil or spinach, olive oil, and nuts.

Ingredients

pasta, parmesan cheese,pesto and pasta water on a brown wooden cutting board.

If you have any ingredients leftover from this easy pesto pasta recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Pasta: Choose from regular, gluten-free, or whole grain pasta, all of which are great options.
  • Pesto: Choose your preferred store-bought pesto, or try making a small batch at home with our single serving pesto recipe. While our recipe incorporates spinach, feel free to substitute an equal amount of fresh basil to suit your taste.
  • Parmesan cheese: For the richest flavor, go for freshly shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese. For a dairy-free alternative, vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast are excellent substitutes for regular parmesan.

Recipe Variations

Every classic recipe can have its own twist. Here are four variations to give your traditional pesto pasta a unique spin:

  1. Creamy Pesto Pasta: Blend in a splash of cream or a dollop of ricotta cheese to your pesto sauce for a creamier texture and richer flavor.
  2. Whole Wheat Wonder: Use whole wheat spaghetti or penne to add a nutty flavor and up the fiber content of your pesto noodles.
  3. Zesty Lemon Pesto: Introduce the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon to your pesto sauce for a refreshing and tangy take.
  4. Mediterranean Medley: Mix in sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and capers for a Mediterranean touch to your traditional pesto pasta.
a jar of pesto with a spoon in the center coming out of the jar.
Homemade Pesto
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How To Make Pesto Pasta

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make a single serving of pesto pasta. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Heat a medium-sized pot of water until it reaches a rolling boil.
  2. Cook the pasta following the instructions on its packaging.
  3. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water. This starchy water is to be mixed into the spaghetti with the pesto. While 1 to 2 tablespoons are usually enough, it’s handy to have a bit extra if you prefer a thinner pesto sauce. This water aids in evenly coating the pasta with pesto, making it an essential step for a delightful pesto pasta.
  4. After the pasta is cooked, drain it using a colander.
  5. Place the drained pasta into a serving bowl.
cooked spaghetti in a white bowl.
  1. Mix in the pesto and 1-2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the pasta. Stir or toss to thoroughly coat the pasta with pesto. If needed, add more pasta water gradually to achieve a silky, soft texture.
pesto water in a small measuring cup being poured over pesto pasta.
  1. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan over the pasta, then toss to combine. Taste and, if needed, add a pinch of salt for seasoning.
pesto pasta in a large white bowl with a spoon on the side.
  1. Serve the pasta in a bowl and garnish with an extra tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese on top.
a bowl of pesto pasta with fresh basil on the side next to a bottle of red wine.

Expert Tips

  • Avoid mixing pesto pasta on a hot stove. Instead, move the cooked pasta to a bowl, then add the pesto and gently toss. The pasta’s residual heat is sufficient to warm the pesto.
  • Consider enhancing the dish with a squeeze of lemon before serving.
  • Pesto pasta can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It remains fresh for up to 3 days.
  • Keep in mind, homemade pesto typically has a brighter green color compared to store-bought varieties.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much pasta should I use to make a single serving of pesto pasta?

Understanding portion sizes can be tricky, and while I don’t wish to dictate your food intake as appetites can greatly differ, a general guideline suggests that 2 ounces of dry pasta is an adequate serving size for one person.
When it comes to spaghetti, a 2-ounce portion is roughly equivalent to the diameter of a US quarter coin when it is uncooked.
If you prefer tube-shaped pasta like penne or ziti, a 2-ounce serving translates to about 2/3 cup of dry pasta.

Should I heat the pesto before adding it to the pasta?

No. Homemade pesto should not be heated because it will lose its color and dilute the flavor.

How can I make a pesto pasta salad?

Using this recipe to make a pesto pasta salad is so simple! Just prepare the recipe as directed, then add in slices of fresh cucumber, chopped tomatoes, jarred roasted red peppers, or other vegetables you love. Add additional pesto if needed.

Can I use this recipe to make pesto pasta for two?

Yes, you can easily double or triple this recipe.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this single serving pesto pasta or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

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Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Pesto Pasta For One

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Cook up a delicious and satisfying single serving of pesto pasta in just 15 minutes! This easy recipe is perfect when you're craving a quick and easy meal. It can be enjoyed as a main dish or a side dish, and you can enjoy it warm or cold! Use our simple homemade pesto recipe or keep it simple and use store-bought.

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 ounces spaghetti , or use your favorite pasta. Two ounces of dried spaghetti is roughly the same size as the circumference of a quarter. For pasta types like penne or ziti, measure out ⅔ cup to equal 2 ounces of dried pasta.
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pesto -Use store-bought or homemade pesto
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly shredded Parmesan cheese -plus more for topping
Save this Recipe!
Get this recipe sent to your inbox, plus get weekly recipes from us – all for free.

Instructions 

  • Heat a medium-sized pot of water until it reaches a rolling boil.
  • Cook the pasta following the instructions on its packaging.
  • Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
    Note: This starchy water is to be mixed into the spaghetti with the pesto. While 1 to 2 tablespoons are usually enough, it's handy to have a bit extra if you prefer a thinner pesto sauce. This water aids in evenly coating the pasta with pesto, making it an essential step for a delightful pesto pasta.
  • After the pasta is cooked, drain it using a colander.
  • Place the drained pasta into a serving bowl.
  • Mix in the pesto and 1-2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the pasta. Stir or toss to thoroughly coat the pasta with pesto. If needed, add more pasta water gradually to achieve a silky, soft texture.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan over the pasta, then toss to combine. Taste and, if needed, add a pinch of salt for seasoning.
  • Serve the pasta in a bowl and garnish with an extra tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

Notes

  • Avoid mixing pesto pasta on a hot stove. Instead, move the cooked pasta to a bowl, then add the pesto and gently toss. The pasta’s residual heat is sufficient to warm the pesto.
  • Consider enhancing the dish with a squeeze of lemon before serving.
  • Pesto pasta can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It remains fresh for up to 3 days.
  • Keep in mind, homemade pesto typically has a brighter green color compared to store-bought varieties.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 382mg, Potassium: 62mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 454IU, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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I’m Joanie and I’m incredibly happy you’re here! Our aim is to inspire individuals with access to single serving recipes, education, and a supportive community that will enable them to enjoy the preparation of a meal that will nourish both body and soul.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Hilgenberg says:

    Excellent recipe. I found the De Cecco pesto in a jar to be the best and is also much lower in calories.