This creamy pesto pasta recipe is amazing! You’ll never know but this is a one-pan veggie-packed meatless dinner idea that is so easy and your kids and your entire family will absolutely love!
I used whole grain pasta and made the creamy pasta sauce with milk instead of cream. I’ve also added some cauliflower rice and arugula to the recipe that nobody noticed. At least nobody complained – everything was devoured in silence. Or you know, over conversations about how the day was, cryptocurrencies, politics and the weather. What have 3-year olds become? This creamy red pesto pasta is vegetarian, on the healthier side, ready in about 15 minutes and will bring some excitement and joy into your life, so give it a try!
How To Sneak Vegetables Into Meals
Pasta is pretty much the only thing my 3-year loves to eat. I’m also pretty sure he’d eat it, even if I just mix it with some tomato paste. I even think my husband did that once and our son loved it. So, since I have this super important piece of information, I’ve now started sneaking vegetables into his pasta. And I’m not talking about the basil in pesto, no no, don’t be silly. I’m talking about the big things. Like garlic, cauliflower, arugula, zucchini. The green stuff. Usually, if he feels a tiny bit of cauliflower, he’d spit it out immediately. Not this time folks, not this time. I guess that cauliflower wasn’t tiny enough, because here I made cauliflower rice and he actually didn’t even notice it. Zucchini? Same thing: Shred them and add them to the sauce. Garlic: Add it in the beginning, so it’s not that strong. You’re not as smart as you thought you little genius, are you?
I also added some cherry tomatoes in the end, which he actually loves, so this pasta has a good amount of vegetables in it. I’m so proud of myself, you cannot even imagine.
What Goes Well In Pesto Pasta
I don’t know about you, but I love these things in any pesto pasta, just to make it a bit healthier:
- Garlic. I know there’s some garlic in pesto, but honestly, it’s not enough. It’s never enough #acidreflux
- Fresh cherry tomatoes
- Chopped and sauteed kale or spinach
If you want to make a non-vegetarian version you can also add some shrimp or if you’re not Italian: chicken. The audacity to think that an Italian would keep reading this after I mentioned the milk.
Creamy Red Pesto Pasta Ingredients
Are you ready to go shopping? Maybe you’ve got most things at home already:
- Whole-grain pasta. We always use whole grain pasta, because it tastes the same and you get more nutrients into your diet. Here we used penne pasta, but you could use any type of pasta – fusilli, farfalle, macaroni, shells…whatever you have.
- Milk. We skipped the cream and used whole milk. I’m pretty sure this would work with non-dairy milk as well, but I haven’t tried it out yet!
- Mozzarella cheese. It’s best to use fresh mozzarella cheese, but if you don’t have it, any type of melty cheese will work.
- Red and green pesto. know one is great, but when you mix both and add some garlic, you’re just in for a treat. We got a good deal at the store for a Sicilian type of red pesto and we went crazy. It’s so good! I do think this pasta will be great with any red pesto you have, but look for brands with minimal and natural ingredients.
- Vegetables. Cauliflower, arugula, garlic and cherry tomatoes. Can you believe I sneaked in so many vegetables?
- salt and black pepper
How To Make Creamy Pesto Pasta
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in some salted water in a large non-stick pan. My pasta cooked in about 10 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, wash and chop the vegetables. Shred the cauliflower rice, slice the cherry tomatoes, peel and mince the garlic, chop the arugula thinly.
- Once the pasta is almost done (like the 8th minute for me) and there’s only a little bit or no water left in the pan, add the pesto, garlic, cauliflower and about 1/2 cup of the milk. Stir and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the mozzarella cheese and the rest of the milk, while stirring continuously. The pasta should now become creamy.
- Stop the heat and stir in the cherry tomatoes and arugula.
- Serve immediately with some Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Why You’ll Love this for Dinner:
This red pesto pasta is:
- creamy and cheesy
- garlicky, but not overwhelmingly garlicky
- insanely good
- super easy to make
- only one pan
- only 15 minutes
- kinda healthy
And it’s just delicious. Top with some parmesan cheese and you’re gonna love it even more!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did! Let me know if you’ve got some questions, or leave a comment if you’ve tried the recipe and loved it!
- 2 cups whole grain pasta
- 1 cup milk
- ⅔ cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 tbsp red pesto
- 2 tbsp green pesto
- ½ cup cauliflower
- handful arugula
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Cook pasta with salted water in a pan according to package instructions in a nonstick pan.
- Shred cauliflower to cauliflower rice. Wash chop thinly arugula and cherry tomatoes, peel and mince garlic.
- Once the pasta is almost cooked, add the pesto, garlic, cauliflower, and ½ of the milk. Mix together and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the mozzarella and the rest of the milk, salt, and black pepper. Stir continuously until creamy.
- Finally add the chopped tomatoes and arugula. Stir in and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 376Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 513mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 17g
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