Jamie Oliver’s Delicious Pesto Pasta Recipe

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Pesto pasta is a dish that’s both incredibly flavorful and surprisingly easy to make. Hailing from the vibrant culinary region of Liguria in Italy, pesto is a vibrant green sauce traditionally made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. This recipe from Jamie Oliver takes you back to the basics, allowing the simple ingredients to truly shine.

This recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a relaxed weekend lunch. In under 30 minutes, you can whip up a delicious and satisfying pasta dish that’s sure to please the whole family.

Pasta pesto
Pasta pesto


½ clove garlic

  • 1 big bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1 handful pine nuts
  • 1 good handful freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Pasta of your choice (enough for your desired servings)

  • Directions:

    1. Prepare the Pesto:

  • Using a mortar and pestle (the traditional method) or a food processor, add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Grind or pulse until a fine paste forms.
  • Wash and dry the basil leaves. Add them to the mortar or food processor along with the pine nuts and pulse or grind until well combined.
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese and add it to the mixture along with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse or grind until a smooth and creamy sauce forms. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

  • 2. Cook the Pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add your chosen pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente (slightly firm to the bite).

  • 3. Assemble and Serve:

  • Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water before draining.
  • Drain the pasta and immediately return it to the pot. Add the pesto and a splash of reserved pasta water. Toss well to coat the pasta evenly.
  • Serve immediately with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.

  • Nutrition Facts:

    (Please note that nutrition facts can vary depending on the specific ingredients used and portion size. These are estimates based on standard measurements.)

    Calories: Per serving, this recipe can range from around 400-500 calories, depending on the type and amount of pasta used.

  • Fat: The majority of the fat comes from the olive oil and Parmesan cheese, with a serving containing around 20-25 grams of fat.
  • Carbohydrates: Pasta is the main source of carbohydrates, with a serving containing around 50-60 grams.
  • Protein: This recipe provides a moderate amount of protein, around 15-20 grams per serving, from the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

  • Conclusion

    Jamie Oliver’s pesto pasta is a testament to the power of simple, fresh ingredients. With just a handful of essentials, you can create a restaurant-worthy dish in your own kitchen. The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. Feel free to customize it with your favorite ingredients. For example, you can substitute spinach or arugula for the basil, walnuts or almonds for the pine nuts, and pecorino romano for the Parmesan cheese.

    This recipe is a great foundation for exploring the world of pestos. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can experiment with adding roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or even shrimp for a more robust and protein-packed meal.


    1. Can I use store-bought pesto in this recipe?

    Absolutely! If you’re short on time or fresh ingredients, using store-bought pesto is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Look for a high-quality pesto made with fresh ingredients and avoid options with added fillers or preservatives.

    2. What type of pasta is best for pesto?

    Traditionally, pesto is served with short, stubby pastas like penne, orecchiette, or fusilli. These shapes have little nooks and crannies that perfectly capture the pesto sauce. However, you can use any type of pasta you like. Long, thin pastas like spaghetti or fettuccine will also work, although they may require a bit more tossing to coat evenly.

    3. How can I store leftover pesto?

    Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To extend its shelf life, you can add a thin layer of olive oil to the top of the pesto to create a barrier and prevent browning. Alternatively, pesto can be frozen for up to 3 months.