Easy Pesto Pasta Recipe

This is the fast, easy, and creamy version.

Pesto is a sauce made of lots of basil and garlic, pine nuts, a Parmesan cheese, and enough olive oil to make it into a spread. You can make a basic pesto pasta recipe but not all the ingredients are easy to find.

How do you make pesto sauce?

Did you know that you don’t have to use pine nuts to make pesto? We love cashews as a creamy swap for pine nuts, but you can use other nuts, too. Here are pine nut substitutes for your pesto that you can easily find and use: 

  • cashews 
  • walnuts 
  • pili nuts 
  • peanuts 
  • sunflower seed nuts 
  • pumpkin seed nuts    

You also do not have to use olive oil either. While it gives the pesto a fantastic flavor, any neutral cooking oil will work, too. Even the basil can be substituted! If you have too many malunggay leaves, add that with the basil leaves to give it even more of a nutritional boost! The one ingredient you shouldn’t substitute is the garlic which gives this sauce a unique and deliciously sharp, herb flavor. 

All you need to do is to combine basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts or your preferred substitute, grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor.

If you want to keep this sauce totally vegetarian without the cheese, you can substitute the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast for its unique saltiness. 

Now that you know how you can hack your own basic pesto, make a batch and use it to make the basic pesto pasta or this super creamy version that might challenge your love for that other creamy pasta, the Pinoy-style carbonara. 

Photo by Roselle Miranda


Easy Pesto Pasta Recipe

Roselle Miranda
This is the fast, easy, and creamy version.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


Easy Pesto Pasta Ingredients

  • 1 200-gram pack spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or any oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 Cup prepared pesto
  • 1 250-gram pack all-purpose flour
  • Salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • water as needed


  • Bring a large pot of water, salted, to a boil over high heat. Cook spaghetti for 8 minutes for al dente, or according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain and keep pasta warm if pasta sauce isn t ready, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, heat oil and then add garlic. Cook garlic until just beginning to turn golden brown. Add pesto and flour, and stir to combine.
  • Pour in all-purpose cream and stir. Cook until heated through and has become thickened. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.
  • Add cooked pasta to the sauce, and toss to coat evenly. Add pasta water gradually to loosen the pasta sauce so the pasta sauce will coat the pasta well. Taste and season accordingly. Top or serve with Parmesan cheese.
Keyword spaghetti recipe, classic
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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