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This 15 minute Creamy Pesto Pasta is the perfect combination of indulgent comfort food with fresh, light summer flavors! Ripe, juicy tomatoes combine with white wine and garlic for a quick sauce base, then add heavy cream and fresh basil pesto for an easy vegetarian weeknight dinner!
You Will Love This
- It's SO simple. Creamy Pesto Pasta is just that - heavy cream, homemade basil pesto, and al dente linguine pasta! Sometimes the simple recipes really are the best. If you’re looking for more simple vegetarian pasta dinners, be sure to check out my Creamy Tuscan Vegan Pasta, Greek Creamy Feta Pasta, or my Easy No Boil Pasta Bake.
- It's SO quick and easy! Skip the jar of pasta sauce tonight and throw together this super simple tomato and pesto cream sauce! The tomatoes break down in the oil and white wine with the freshly sliced garlic to create a delicious base for the sauce. Stir in heavy cream and homemade pesto and dinner is done!
- It feels fancy, indulgent, and restaurant-quality, but you can make it in your pajamas! This pesto pasta is a date night dinner at it's finest. But you don't have to get fancy to eat fancy. Stay in your PJs, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy some time in the kitchen together!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Olive Oil - I’d recommend looking for an olive oil that’s cold-pressed and organic. This is our family’s favorite brand of olive oil.
- Fresh Garlic - Fresh garlic really makes this pasta shine! Garlic powder would work in a pinch, but I highly recommend keeping a fresh head of garlic around so you can throw this creamy pesto sauce together at a moment’s notice.
- Dried Thyme - You could also use dried oregano or even dried rosemary in place of the dried thyme in this recipe, but I love the flavor that thyme brings to this pasta dish.
- Grape Tomatoes - You could really use any type of tomato for this dish, but I love the bite size shape of grape tomatoes. Use whatever ripe tomatoes you’ve got on hand.
- White Wine - I recommend using a semi-dry white that you enjoy drinking for this recipe. I like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, a splash of vegetable broth will work in its place. You could also reserve some pasta water and use that in place of the white wine.
- Heavy Cream - Heavy cream is going to give this cream sauce the very best rich, luxurious flavor and texture. But if you don’t have it on hand, you could use half and half or even whole milk in its place. Just keep in mind the sauce will be a bit less creamy.
- Basil Pesto - I am OBSESSED with this super simple basil pesto recipe but store-bought works too. This is my favorite brand of basil pesto that you can find at many grocery stores.
- Salt and Pepper - The ingredient list is short and sweet in this recipe, so be sure to season to taste with salt and pepper liberally throughout the cooking process. They’ll go a long way to enhancing the flavors of this pasta creamy pesto pasta dish.
- Pasta - I love to use linguine for this creamy vegetarian pasta, but honestly, any type of pasta would work in this dish. Rotini, fettuccine, or even spaghetti all work well.
- Parmesan - I love to hit this dish with a heavy hand of grated Parmesan for garnish. The nuttiness really works well with creamy pesto flavors.
- Fresh Basil - I like to garnish this pasta with fresh basil just to enhance the flavor of the pesto and add a fresh element to cut the richness of the sauce.
Add tomatoes and white wine.
Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add heavy cream and pesto.
Toss to coat evenly.
Serve with grated Parmesan and fresh basil and enjoy!
- Moderately salt pasta water and cook just until al dente. I recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of Kosher salt to the water just after it comes to a boil and before adding the pasta. This is your first chance to season the pasta and will really make such a huge difference in the overall flavor of this dish.
- To make this dish vegan, just substitute coconut milk in place of the heavy cream and use vegan pesto. My favorite vegan pesto brand is Amore. OR you can make my super easy basil pesto recipe but just omit the Parmesan, adding a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead. In my opinion, nothing compares to fresh pesto but it's not always a reality on a busy weeknight, so store-bought will work just fine too!
- The creamy sauce will thicken as it cools. But a quick splash of pasta water, heavy cream, or milk will loosen it up again in no time!
- I love to make a big batch of this pasta and have it in the fridge all week for a quick and easy dinner. It's perfect alongside a big green salad.
- As mentioned above, the creamy pesto sauce will thicken as it cools. The best way to reheat this pasta is in a pan over medium heat. Add a splash of cream or milk initially and then add more as needed while you're heating up the pasta.
- It should take about 4-5 minutes to get the pasta heated through. Be sure to keep stirring/tossing the pasta frequently while it is reheating. This will ensure that it heats evenly and quickly so that the pasta doesn't get mushy.
- If I'm planning to enjoy this creamy pesto pasta recipe at a later date, I will even cook the pasta a minute or so UNDER the recommended cook time for al dente pasta. That way the pasta can finish cooking in the pan as I reheat it each time.
- Don't forget to season to taste with salt and pepper after re-heating pasta!
It might seem obvious, but creamy pesto is made with heavy cream and pesto! I love to use my simple basil walnut pesto for this creamy peso pasta recipe, but any basil pesto will work well. Heavy cream is the best way to make this creamy pesto sauce, but half and half or coconut milk would work in its place.
The best way to make creamy pesto sauce from scratch is to start with a quick and easy homemade basil pesto. Basil pesto takes just a few minutes to whiz together in a food processor and uses just a handful of simple ingredients - basil, nuts (typically pine nuts, but I usually use walnuts), Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, and salt. In this recipe I combine a homemade pesto, with some sauteed garlic, dried herbs, white wine, and heavy cream. It creates the most luxurious creamy pesto sauce that's rich but not too heavy.
I love to add fresh tomatoes to my creamy pesto pasta. Tomatoes and basil go together like peanut butter and jelly. So I always try to pair them together for a classic flavor profile. Of course grated Parmesan ties the fresh basil and fresh tomatoes together and adds a salty nutty flavor as well.
You certainly can just add pesto to pasta, but pesto is a bit thick to use by itself as a pasta sauce. That's why in this recipe I add the heavy cream and a splash of white wine, plus the liquid from the cooked down tomatoes. That helps to loosen up the pesto and create a creamy sauce that coats every nook and cranny of your pasta.
Family Favorite Pastas
- 15 Minute Creamy Feta Greek Pasta
- Vegan Tuscan Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Easy Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
- Creamy Balsamic Mushroom Linguine
- Easy No-Boil Pasta Bake