22/02/2024

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Pesto Pasta for One – Nourish Nutrition Blog

Pesto Pasta for One – Nourish Nutrition Blog

Make pesto pasta for one in just 10 minutes with pre-made pesto sauce, like this Arugula Basil Pesto or Pistachio Pesto. It’s a quick dinner to throw together on days you didn’t plan ahead and want something easy and delicious.

close up of pesto pasta in a bowl

[This pesto pasta for one recipe was originally posted in April 2016. It has been updated with cooking instructions, expert tips, FAQ, related recipes, and ways to repurpose/use up ingredients]

If you ever had days where you didn’t plan dinner, but aren’t in the mood for take-out or cereal-this pesto pasta for one is for you! You can have an easy dinner in just 10-15 minutes, if you have pesto in your pantry.

This pasta is full of delicious pantry ingredients like pasta, edamame, frozen vegetables, pesto, grated parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if you want). This ingredient list doesn’t look like a thrown together dinner-but it is!

Make Arugula Basil Pesto when you have too much arugula or basil around, and freeze for later. Or grab your favorite jar of pre-made pesto sauce from the store. Either works, and will be delicious.

I love this recipe and others like it because I don’t plan meals as often as I’d like, and I know that’s the case for more of us than we often admit (it’s so common for solo cooks!). Let’s work with what we’ve got and make something delicious!

Ingredients

Scroll down to the pesto pasta for one recipe card for the amounts of each ingredient, but here’s a quick visual + description of what’s in this recipe.

pesto pasta ingredients on a table
  • Pesto: Make some with about to go bad basil, arugula, spinach, etc. Or buy your favorite kind. Some of my favorites are the Kirkland brand and Trader Joe’s.
  • Edamame: A great plant based protein source, can be added to the cooking pasta, and it adds nice texture to this pasta. You could also use chicken, sausage, salmon or whatever else you like.
  • Pasta: Use your favorite shape. Pasta with some ridges helps the sauce stick and get very creamy, but use what you have, your pesto pasta for one will be great.
  • Parmesan
  • Vegetables: If you’d like more vegetables in your pesto pasta for one, I recommend adding frozen vegetables to the almost done pasta. Add it with 2-3 minutes cook time remaining for best results.
  • Basil

Instructions

Scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed instructions. Here’s a quick overview + photos to see how to make this recipe in general.

*Make your own pesto or use store bought pesto for this 10 minute pasta recipe.

pasta and broccoli cooking in a pot

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add edamame and frozen vegetables to pasta when it has about 2-3 minutes left to cook.

hand holding pasta water over pasta in pot

2. Reserve 1-2 Tablespoons of pasta water, then drain water. This helps thicken up your sauce, and helps it stick to the pasta.

I highly recommend doing this.

bow tie pasta with pesto in a glass bowl

3. Transfer pasta and vegetables to serving bowl or mixing bowl. Add fresh or frozen pesto and toss. Top pesto pasta with grated parmesan cheese and red chili flakes (optional) and enjoy.

Storage/Reheating Tips

Store in an airtight container for about a week, in the fridge. I like to sprinkle a bit of water on pasta before reheating as it can get dried out in the fridge. It helps the sauce feel extra smooth and creamy.

I wouldn’t recommend freezing this pesto pasta for one as the pasta might break apart after freezing.

Substitutions/Tips

  • Chicken, salmon, tofu, and shrimp are all good proteins to go on this single serving pasta if you don’t have edamame.
  • Be careful about heating store-bought pesto up as it may turn brown/black. The Arugula Basil Pesto shouldn’t turn brown/black because it doesn’t have a ton of basil in it.
  • Frozen vegetables cook easily in the pasta water, and are inexpensive, but you can substitute them for any other vegetable, or don’t add vegetables.
  • Add back 1-2 Tablespoons of pasta water to your pasta and sauce. The starch in the water helps your sauce stick to the pasta, and keeps the sauce very creamy and lovely.
  • If you’re storing any for leftovers, add a sprinkle of water to pasta before reheating, it’ll help preserve the creamy sauce consistency.
  • Other great add-ins: cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts or cashews, extra virgin olive oil would all be great on this pesto pasta for one.

FAQ

Is pesto pasta healthy?

As a dietitian, I recommend eating a variety of foods, so yes, it’s healthy. This pasta is full of great flavors, and is a great way to add vegetables to your dinner, if you’d like to eat more.

Is pesto pasta vegetarian?

This pasta for one is vegetarian. It’s got edamame to add protein. It’s not vegan because there’s cheese in the pesto and the garnish, but you can substitute nutritional yeast for the parmesan cheese.

Should pesto pasta be hot or cold?

It’s great both hot, cold, and room temperature. That’s why using edamame is great, it won’t go bad if it’s sitting out. This pasta makes for a good lunch because you don’t have to heat it up.

bowtie pasta with pesto in a white bowl with ingredients on table

What to do with leftover ingredients

When you’re cooking for one, you often have leftover produce, cans of whatever ingredient, etc. Here are a couple ideas on how to use up the leftover ingredients. It’ll help you save money by wasting fewer ingredients.

Did you make pesto pasta for one? Leave me a comment & rating to share how it turned out!

bowtie pasta with pesto in a white bowl with ingredients on table
Print Pin

Pesto Pasta for One

Make this pesto pasta for one in just 10 minutes with pre-made pesto sauce, like this Arugula Basil Pesto or Pistachio Pesto. It’s a quick dinner you can throw together on days you didn’t plan ahead and want something equally easy and delicious.

Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Rebecca Clyde MS, RDN

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces pasta of choice
  • ¼ cup shelled edamame
  • ¼ cup freezer pesto
  • ½ cup frozen vegetables optional
  • grated parmesan cheese to taste
  • red pepper flakes optional

Instructions

  • Cook 2 ounces pasta according to box directions.

  • When pasta is about 5 minutes from being done, add ¼ cup frozen edamame and ½ cup frozen vegetables (optional) to cooking pasta. Finish cooking until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente.

  • Reserve 1-2 Tablespoons of pasta water before draining

  • Drain water, transfer pasta to serving bowl or mixing bowl, add back 1 Tablespoon of pasta water, and ¼ cup pesto. Stir until all pasta is coated with pesto. Add more pasta water if needed.

  • Top with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve hot or cold. 

Notes

  • Protein options: chicken, salmon, shrimp, sausage, edamame, etc.
  • Pesto with lots of basil will turn brown when exposed to air, so keep it sealed, or make one without as much basil like this Arugula Basil Pesto shouldn’t turn brown/black because it doesn’t have a ton of basil in it.
  • Frozen vegetables cook easily in the pasta water, and are inexpensive, but you can substitute them for any other vegetable, or don’t add vegetables.
  • Add back 1-2 Tablespoons of pasta water to your pasta and sauce. The starch in the water helps your sauce stick to the pasta, and keeps the sauce creamy.
  • If you’re storing any for leftovers, add a sprinkle of water to pasta before reheating, it’ll help restore the creamy sauce consistency.
  • Other great add-ins: cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts or cashews, extra virgin olive oil.