20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta
With a fresh pop of tomato and basil, this 20-minute tomato pesto pasta is one of our favorite pasta dishes, which is perfect since it’s so easy to whip up on a busy weeknight!
If there’s ever been a meal I want you to drop what you are doing and make, it’s this one. I’m not kidding. It’s incredible. Like, one of my favorite pasta dishes ever.
Maybe it’s because of the garden fresh tomatoes. Or the fresh basil (I’ve professed my love for that delicious herb over and over).
Maybe it’s because it literally only takes 15-20 minutes to get on the table. Or because it’s because pasta makes my soul sing.
All I know is, that’s a lot of maybes and a lot of reasons to make this fast and delicious pesto pasta dish.
This quick, homemade pesto is a little different than regular ol’ pesto thanks to the juicy, fresh tomatoes thrown in there…along with a few other things that make it pretty special.
Since pine nuts lately require a small private loan to afford, the toasted, slivered almonds in this recipe are a pleasant surprise and absolutely delicious (as in, I might make pesto with slivered almonds forevermore).
And because I believe fresh basil and Parmesan cheese can do no wrong together, they further amp up the deliciousness of the saucy pesto smothering the tender noodles.
This meal is seriously as simple as throwing the pesto ingredients together in the food processor while the noodles boil and then tossing it all together.
Except, don’t skip toasting the almonds. I know some of you will be tempted, but that easy 2-minute step is going to add some delicious flavor, so just do it, ok?
I really didn’t think something so fast and easy could reach this level of deliciousness, but I was wrong. As an FYI, the leftovers were crazy tasty straight out of the fridge for lunch the next day.
A super way to use up garden fresh tomatoes and basil, this meal is going to be on heavy rotation for the rest of forever (except for those months when fresh basil is scarce and I go into deep mourning).
What To Serve With This:
20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 10 to 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, about 2 to 3 cups
- ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
- ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound linguine or spaghetti noodles
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
- Fresh basil for garnish, optional
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to package directions.
- While the noodles are boiling, toast the almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the almonds, tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until the mixture is mostly smooth (there will be small bits of almonds but everything else should be pretty smooth). With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and mix for 20-30 seconds. Set aside.
- Drain the noodles and return to the pot.
- Pour over the pesto sauce, add the Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately with extra Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Jodi at 5BoysBaker, originally from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011
118 Comments on “20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta”
Really delicious and goes together quickly. My family raved about it
Just tried this for the first time after seeing it in your “forgotten recipes” post. It was delicious and super easy!!
We have a lot of cherry tomatoes from our garden, so I’ve been searching for recipes to use them up. I don’t really like pasta, but I loved this, as did my husband and 15 month old. Thank you so much!
This is on regular rotation throughout the summer. Easy, fast, and so darn GOOD! Love your site and love your way, Mel.
I bought walnuts for my pesto, since pine nuts are crazy expensive. Could I use those instead of almonds? And do you not add any Parmesan to the food processor, before the olive oil? Like you do with basil pesto.
You could definitely try walnuts (no I don’t add Parmesan).
This is the perfect summer recipe. I love that I can whip up this sauce, boil some noodles and sauté some chicken, never turn the oven on and it’s done in 20 minutes. I had this recipe in my bookmarks all winter waiting for summer tomatoes and it’s been amaaaaazing. I’ve made it with big tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and I liked it with the cherry the best. I like to put a lot basil in it, which is perfect because I have a huge basil plant. Definitely do yourself a favor and get real block of Parmesan and grate it yourself, it makes all the difference. Thanks Mel!
Do you leave the skin on the tomatoes? Has anyone had luck in roasting the cherry tomatoes first? Hoping to have tonight!
Yes, I leave the skins on the tomatoes.
OH.. roasting will only bring out the flavors MORE. I would do that!!
My daughter is allergic to nuts, do you think I can substitute the almonds for sunflower seeds? I would love to make this recipe, it looks delish.
I think so – I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how it will affect the flavor.
Excellent and fast!
Can I use normal vinegar? Or is there some substitute for the red wine vinegar?
You could try subbing in apple cider vinegar
Totally awesome! The whole family loved this!
Made this last night and it was a hit with my whole family, even the two who aren’t big fans of tomatoes. I followed your recipe exactly and it was so easy for a weeknight, thanks for another winner!
Mel, I have a tomato allergy… what are your thoughts on subbing the tomatoes for roasted red peppers?
I definitely think it’s worth a try!
This recipe is so easy to make! This was my family’s second time eating this dish and we loved it the first time! When making the sauce the second time I found adding a little extra salt was good but, maybe that’s just me and what I like! When eating the dish a second time it was superb! we added a little to much tomatoes thinking it wouldn’t hurt so it was a little sweet. Overall, I think this dish is great!
This was delicious! It being February I only had tomatoes from the grocery store and the flavor was just meh, not like summer sweet garden tomatoes! I was worried it wouldn’t turn out so I roasted the tomatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, hoping to add a little more flavor. And I did have some pine nuts so I used those, other than that I followed Mel’s recipe. It was so so good! Like lick the bowl good!
Hi Mel! Just curious if I could substitute the slivered almonds for whole almonds and how it might affect the recipe? I would still roast them. I just find whole almonds to be more affordable, but if it’s worth it, I’ll use them!
Hey Beth, I think the reason the recipe calls for slivered almonds is because they blend up more smoothly than whole almonds.
I love how the pest and tomato together makes it creamy and truly delicious.
So fast, so easy, SO DELICIOUS! Substituted pine nuts for almonds… Oh my. Thanks for a delicious way to use up my garden tomatoes. And no cooking the sauce! Yay!
I’m planning on serving this at my daughters birthday party this weekend. She requested pizza so I’m also having salad and was planning on this pasta to appeal to the adults as well. We have 20 kids and 30 adults (my guess it most kids will stick with just pizza and adults will just have small servings ) should I double the recipe ? Also can I make the sauce the night before so I’m not messing with dishes in the morning . Thanks !
Yes, you can definitely make the sauce the night before. That’s quite a crowd! I think doubling it would be fine (I’d serve it over a tube-shaped pasta or something like farfalle or rotini vs spaghetti) for small portions…but if all the kids are planning on having some as well as the adults, you might consider tripling.
Can this sauce be made ahead of time? How long does it keep?
Probably a couple of days in the fridge…
So yum! Made it and i was so surprised at how easy it was to make!! Everyone loved it!
This week I decided to let the kids choose one of any 30 minute meals you have on your blog, mostly so I could stretch myself and so I didn’t have to choose another meal. My dear 3 year old choose this one and we bought the ingredients and made it… Mostly together, she had a short attention span. After making the press and smelling it her first comment was, “umm… I don’t want dinner anymore…” Ha, but I love it and she liked the taste I think… Wish I could post a picture but trust me, she is a cutie and a good helper!
Haha, that is so cute!
This was beyond amazing! I paired it with you Chicken Parm (although it could have stood alone) and we loved it! I have some Pesto Pasta leftover – I was looking at using it in your Spaghetti Pie. Do you think that would work? Thank you for all you do to make my family dinnertime a success!
I definitely think that’s worth a try!
I can’t wait to make this!!
I’ve made this recipe probably 20 times over the last two years and it’s a hit every. single. time. It’s my go to quick meal all summer long, and I pout for a day or two when winter comes (Idaho ) and I can’t grab tomatoes and basil from my garden. Probably one of my favorite finds from your site, which is saying A LOT.
I have made this multiple times and loved it! I had a lot of tomatoes from my garden and made batches to freeze. I used one from the freezer tonight and while the consistency was fine, it had a weird bitter taste. Has anyone had this?
I made this tonight, and it was a hit! My husband doesn’t like fresh tomatoes, but he had seconds, and the kids and I loved it too. Thank you for another amazing recipe!
I am in love with this pasta sauce. It is so delicious. I love it hot or cold. I love it here or there or anywhere. What a perfect use of fresh tomatoes (I’ve only made it with regular tomatoes, not the cherry kind) and fresh basil. This time of year, it is heavenly! I’ve taken it to my Moms when I had to feed a small army — and everyone raved about it. It is a cinch to whip up in the blender. Not sure how it could possibly be any easier to make fresh, homemade pasta sauce with that kind of stellar flavor. I know that I’m raving, but this one is worth raving about. 10 stars! Oh wait, there’s only 5. So 5 it is! Super good!
Haha, you’re Dr. Seuss-ish first line cracked me up, Joan. 🙂
This is a fast, simple, and delicious summer meal.
All my favorite flavors in one easy sauce–the kids liked it, too!
Can I make this without using any nuts?
The texture would be much thinner – and obviously the flavor would be different.
I made this for the first time tonight. It was very good but almost tasted “green.” I’m not sure if the tomatoes weren’t quite ripe or what. You are my go to when I look for ideas for dinner. Everything I have made is amazing.
Sorry it didn’t work out, Haley. It definitely matters if you use less ripe tomatoes – summer sweet ripe tomatoes are the best, if possible. 🙂
Did not like the almond bits. Next time pine nuts. Good recipe
Can’t wait to try this!
Absolutely amazing!! I don’t want to know how many times I made this rock star dish this summer. When the snow melts and the basil and tomatoes grow, I will be back! (Just looking at this picture is making me drool.)
I made up several batches of this at the end of the fall with my leftover cherry tomatoes. I blended up all of the ingredients (except from the parmesan cheese) to freeze. I’ve used a couple so far, pulling them out to thaw and then just adding the sauce and cheese to the cooked noodles. It’s been great!
I have a bunch of cherry tomatoes from my garden and was thinking of making up a few batches of this sauce and freezing it. Do you think it would be ok?
Yes! I think it would freeze great!
I know this will sound strange, but what color is the pesto supposed to be? I mixed mine up and it’s a golden/brown color. Tastes good, but not sure it’s supposed to look like that?? Thanks Mel! Love you!
Mine is yellow/golden/tan also! :S Does not look like the pictures.
Hey Sara, it’s kind of on the rusty red spectrum. What kind of tomatoes did you use?
This was really good and very easy. Loved it!Thanks Mel.
This was amazing and easy!
I love your recipes and can’t wait to try this one! I saw some comments regarding adding grilled chicken (yum!) but what about shrimp??
OMG!!! Just made this! Dee-licious! Made it just as written, a nice green salad and a bottle of red wine. I feel so…Roman! This is a keeper!
This was delicious. I only had whole roasted almonds, but they worked fine and I added about 1/4 cup of red wine and simmered for about 5 minutes. My family really enjoyed it, thanks.
LOVED this recipe! My husband thanked me for the “luscious” dinner!! This one is a keeper for those busy nights but perfect for company too.
I made this last night and added cubed grilled chicken. It was fabulous and we all gobbled it up. I did splurge on pine nuts as I found them in bulk and bought only what the recipe called for. I am sure almonds would be great, but I love toasted pine nuts so much! It was a great, easy summer recipe. Thank you! I have the chocolate zucchini cake in the oven right now and can’t wait for it tonight. PS, love, love, love your podcast. You are so adorable, real, and sweet and that’s why we all love you!
Thank you Teresa!! You are always so sweet.
Wait! You have a podcast??
No. 🙂 I was a guest on a podcast a while back.
I once bought a pesto at a farmers’s market in Vermont made with walnuts so this might be another acceptable substitution for pine nuts!
We tried this last night and absolutely loved it! Simple, quick, and tasty! Thank-you!
Our family loved this meal! It’s sure to make a biweekly presence! 🙂
I made this for dinner tonight, and my family loved it. I had to substitute sliced almonds for the slivered ones, but I don’t think it mattered one bit. Also, it was cheaper for me to buy a basil plant than to buy a small bunch of fresh basil, so the bonus of this recipe is that I now own a lovely little pot of live basil. Thanks, Mel!
This is AMAZING!!! Will be freezing all my extra tomatoes out of the garden this year, just for this dish!!!!! Thx Mel, oh and thank your Aunt for her awesome roast chicken on rock salt recipe. Hands down the only roast chicken to ever make!!! julie
Yay! I love the vegetarian meals you post Mel! Do you think the pesto sauce would freeze well? I have a lot of tomatoes and basil in my garden right now, and was going to make a few batches of the sauce to have on hand.
Yes, I think it would freeze pretty well!
? I want to leave the almonds out as we have a good allergy with my husband. Is this recipe one that needs the almonds or can they be skipped ?
A comment above (from Liz) mentions sunflower seeds….that’s what I’m going to try. I’d probably use roasted seeds since toasting the almonds appears crucial to the recipe. Good luck!:)
They definitely add flavor and texture. You might try another nut/seed and see how it goes.
I made this today and it was great, but it made a ton of pasta. I should have made 1/2 of the recipe. As always , good directions, and very tasty .
Perfect recipe. Wouldn’t change a thing. Fast, easy, and oh so delicious!
Mel I really enjoyed listening to your podcast. I love that you let us “in” so we can learn a little more about you. I really liked that you shared a few of your all time favorite recipes because I hadn’t made the Sweet & Sour Chicken or the little bread cups so they are on my list to make this week. I enjoyed learning how your family runs things at home. I, like you, really liked to hear what has worked for others so I can learn from the best. Keep on sharing!
I’m downloading your podcast now. I can’t wait to listen to it. Thanks for another great recipe. I love pasta and will be making this recipe tonight. Have a wonderful weekend!
This looks great!! I always love it when you post vegan/vegetarian friendly options!! 🙂
I almost passed up on this recipe, but took a moment to look at it in detail. YES! This one is a keeper. Thank you, Mel.
This was very good! We made it last night and will certainly add it to our weekday rotation. My husband grilled some chicken to add a little protein. Thanks!!!
haha small loan for pine nuts – so true! Thanks for another great recipe and for sharing your podcast. I just listened to it and am all motivated and ready as ever to try meal planning. Your love for cooking delicious meals and making it a part of family culture is contagious! And after hearing you cook three new recipes a day I have even more appreciation for what you do. Thanks for sharing all your delicious findings! 🙂
Thanks, cute Rachel.
This was dinner tonight (thank you!), along with a simple salad and your breadsticks. Those breadsticks are the best – I’ve made them for years now. Anyway! Huge hit with the whole family and an altogether awesome meal. For the record, I used one ginormous tomato bought from the farm stand and it was still perfect. This is a keeper!!
Sarah, glad to see you used regular tomato from farm stand, that is what I have on hand right now. Thank you!!
It looks really delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Well, I saw this post this morning, thought it looked good, and made it for dinner tonight! It is tasty! I mixed in sliced grilled chicken as well. Thanks for a delicious and easy recipe.
I have everything but the cherry tomatoes for this! I can get them from our co-op tomorrow and that is what I’m making for dinner! Thanks for always sharing the best, timely recipes
I listened to the podcast and it was great! I love your blog. I think you have a great writing style. It makes me want to try the recipe ASAP. Sometimes I laugh as you have a great sense of humor. I am a long time loyal fan and it was great to hear more about your life and how you do things.
Thank you, Linda!
This sauce looks incredible! We’ll have to try this soon!
Just finished hearing your podcast!!! Wish I was your neighbor, lol! Thanks for sharing a part of you 🙂
Thanks for listening and following along, Melissa! 🙂
I know it’s not technically pesto if the nuts are omitted, but do you think this would work without them? Or would it affect taste and/or texture too much? I’m teaching a cooking class at our homeschool co-op and think this would be great to try, but we have to be nut-free. Thanks!
Hey Stephanie – I definitely think the nuts add to the pesto but in the name of being nut free, I think you could leave them out. If so, I’d process the Parmesan cheese in with the pesto to give it some texture.
I finally did a trial run of this sauce without nuts. To bring back some of the flavor that was missing by omitting the toasted almonds, I tossed about ¾ of the tomatoes in a bit of olive oil and roasted them under the broiler for about 10 minutes. I left the rest of the tomatoes raw to add a bit of that zip of fresh tomatoes. It was a hit with my family! I’m using it in my class this week; hope my group of 8-10 year olds like it as much as we did tonight.
If you can use seeds … I often use sunflower seeds in pestos. When I do, I use lemon juice as the acid.
We got 3 bunches of basil in our CSA this week and I had no idea what to do with it. This is perfect timing! But could I use regular tomatoes instead of cherry/grape tomatoes? Those were gone quick, but I have an abundance of regular tomatoes.
It might make the pesto slightly more liquidy but I’d say go for it! I’m all about using what you have on hand.
What could I substite for the red wine vinager? This looks so good and with tomatoes in season it is a must to try!!
Try lemon juice or another vinegar.
Love this recipe as well just checkin the comments for a substitute for the red wine vinegar- would apple cider vinegar be ok for this recipe
Sure, that should work (it’s such a small amount)
I might have a slight obsession with your blog right now as in pretty much all the food we have eaten for the last 3-4 weeks have come from here. I rarely print a recipe and immediately use it, but as I’m typing this a One Bowl Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie is sitting beside me waiting until I finish my Barley Pilaf, Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast and Skillet Green Beans. LOVE LOVE your recipes. I may or may not have 2 3-ring binders almost exclusively dedicated to your recipes. Keep them coming. I wasn’t going to print this one, but then I thought about what flavors I might be missing, so it’s now sitting on the printer as well. Thank you so so much.
Thank you, Aurelia! That made my day.
THANK YOU! Just last night we pulsed about 5 quarts of tomatoes from our garden and stuck them in our freezer for fast sauces as we planted many too many tomatoes this year. This is going to be a perfect recipe to translate that stash into quick delicious dinners.
I can’t wait to try this! It looks delicious! I’m so happy that is uses almonds since my husband is allergic to pine nuts!
This looks and sounds wonderful as well as being wonderfully simple!
I listened to the Podcast and enjoyed it thoroughly even though I am 61, single and no children 🙂 There were some thoughts/ideas/life lessons that applied to me and I’m guessing to most folks – moms or not: keep it simple, flexibility, live with authenticity, find joy in the moment/day. And of course, SHARE !!
I do have in common with you working from home, consider myself a homebody (actually borderline recluse-hermit) and enjoy internet relationships (people at my convenience) and I am very grateful for those options 🙂 !
Thanks for another great recipe and for sharing some of your home life story.
Thank you, Liz! I think you and I would be great friends if we met in real life. 🙂
This looks terrific! Going to make it tonight.
Does the parmesan get mixed in at the end or in the blender?
Good catch! It gets tossed in at the end with the pesto. I’ve updated the recipe. Thanks. 🙂
Just listened to the podcast this morning. Everything I thought it would be. Wonderful! You are my favorite virtual friend. And 3 new recipes a day?!?! Goodnight! Amazing!
So how would you adjust this if you just had already made pesto? I get mine from Costco and love it. I ask this knowing making my own with toasted almonds would be better 🙂 but asking because I have the premade stuff already opened in my fridge 🙂 Thanks! You are the best Mel! And would it work to add cooked ground beef or chicken to this also?
Yes, you could definitely add some type of meat/protein! Grilled chicken would be fabulous (invite me over). Hmmm, using already made pesto. Maybe add 1/2 to 3/4 cup to the food processor with the tomatoes? And then eliminate some or all of the Parmesan cheese later in the dish (since the pesto already has Parm in it). Good luck! 🙂 I love Costco pesto, too.
Thanks! And you are invited over anytime, if you are ever in southeast Kansas!! Would LOVE to have you!!! Our door is always open!
This looks like amazing comfort food! I love that you used almonds instead of pine nuts (those things are crazy expensive) – always can use a budget-friendly option 🙂