Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recipe of the month: Pesto Walnut Pasta

This particular recipe I got while watching Sanjeev Kapoor’s show Khana Khazana one weekend. Although I had never made a pesto sauce before, I decided to give it a go since it looked healthy, simple to make and required only a handful of ingredients. What a winner it turned out to be! You can hardly ever go wrong with it. You get the fresh sweet flavor of basil, aroma of the olive oil, earthy pungency of garlic, the heat from dry red chillies, creaminess from the parmesan cheese, a sweet tartness from the cherry tomatoes and the crunchiness from the walnuts. It has become one of my favorite dishes in recent times and has a special place in my treasured recipe book. This is one recipe for which my hubby will venture out even at the most unearthly hours, to  buy the required ingredients if he craves for it for breakfast the next morning 

This pasta features as a staple item on our weekly menu. I hope you try it out and love it as much as we do!

Pesto Walnut Pasta

Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 15 min 
Serves: 2
Recipe Level: Easy
Recipe Source: Sanjeev Kapoor's website

200 gm pasta (penne/fusilli)
8-10 walnuts (for pesto)
4-5 chopped walnuts
¾ cup (30 gm) fresh basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
12-14 cherry tomatoes
1-2 tsp crushed dry red chillies
Salt to taste

  1. Prepare the pesto sauce by blending the walnuts, garlic, basil leaves, parmesan cheese and olive oil. It should form a smooth, green paste. Note that the pesto sauce tends to discolor with time so don't prepare it too much in advance. 
  2. Drop the pasta in a pot of boiling water to which salt and a little oil have been added. Stir intermittently to ensure the pasta does not stick. Cook the pasta al dente (firm but done). Remember that the pasta continues to cook after you toss it with the pesto sauce so it should not be overcooked. Drain the pasta and keep aside. Do not refresh with water as the starch helps the sauce to coat the pasta.
  3. In a pan heat some olive oil and add the cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle some salt over it and cook with the lid covered. Once the tomatoes have become soft, take a potato masher or blunt end of the ladle and gently squish the tomatoes (do not turn them into pulp). Now add in the pesto sauce, chopped walnuts, crushed dry red chillies, salt to taste (if required) and mix. Add the pasta and toss well. 
  4. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and red chilli flakes and serve hot.
  • Time the recipe in such a way that the pasta gets cooked at the same time as it is to be mixed in with the pesto sauce. This way the pasta is hot and absorbs the flavors from the sauce better and the pesto sauce retains its green color.
  • Use whole wheat pasta if you want to make this recipe healthier
  • You can add one finely minced fresh red chilly along with the cherry tomatoes while sautéing if you want a bit more heat (that's the Indian in me talking!).
  • This pasta dish tastes best when served immediately. Letting the pasta sit for prolonged periods and/or refrigeration dries it out and leads to a loss of flavor so I wouldn't recommend it as a dish that you could prepare in advance or serve as leftovers the next day. 



  1. I've just seen this photo on SavorySight and had to tell you - it's a wonderful dish!!
    I looooooooove pesto, and the combination of ingredients here are great :)

  2. Thank you Winnie :) I hope you try it out. Please give me feedback if you do!

  3. Hey Megha, we love Pesto at home.I followed this recipe last weekend, came out decent (i think) :P. I had a hard time finding Parmesan Cheese :( and when i managed to locate a store,I realized this dish is quite an expensive affair!What are the other alternatives if one does not find Parmesan? Would Cheddar work well?

  4. Good to hear that u tried it Sahana :) Yeah some of the ingredients can work out to be expensive. U can substitute cheddar if u can't get parmesan but the parmesan has a very nice nutty flavor whereas cheddar can be quite milky and flavorless. But both can enrich the creamy consistency of the pesto so go ahead :)

  5. Ok,i was concerned about cheddar not blending well with the sauce too. Thanks Megha :).


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