This simple lemony pesto pasta is packed with basil, toasted pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano cheese, lemon juice and zest! It comes together in just 30 minutes and is perfect for summer nights!
The pine nuts are toasted in a 325′ oven until they are lightly golden and fragant. Because nuts have such a high fat content, they can burn very easily. Toasting them in the oven rather than the stovetop ensures that they cook evenly, and using a low temperature gives you a little cushion before they go from golden to burnt!
I love to make this pasta when brining dinner to friends, along with a tomato feta salad and some crusty bread. Run in Trader Joe’s for flowers, sparkling lemonade, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups and boom! Dinner is served. (Now I might have to change my formula when I bring dinner to friends since I’ve given myself away).
Simple Lemony Pesto Pasta
- ¾ cup pine nuts
- ¾ lb pasta
- 2 cups basil, packed
- 1 oz parmigiano reggiano, grated about 1 cup unpacked, plus more for serving
- ½ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs minced garlic
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- pinch dried red pepper flakes optional – leave out if you don't want any spice
Toast the pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 325' (300' convection). Spread pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway, until lightly golden and fragrant.
Make the pesto
- Combine 1/2 cup of the toasted pine nuts with the basil, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, lemon juice or red pepper flakes if desired.
- Cook pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
- Toss cooked pasta with pesto, adding a splash of pasta water if needed to thin sauce.
- Serve with more grated parmigiano reggiano, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes and the remaining 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts.