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!

15-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

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. Maybe it’s because of 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. Maybe 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.

15-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

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.

15-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

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 (and 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
Skillet Green Beans
Divine Breadsticks

20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

Don't skip toasting those almonds! It adds a delicious depth of flavor that you don't want to miss.


  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 10 to 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 to 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • Fresh basil for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to package directions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Drain the noodles and return to the pot.
  5. Pour over the pesto sauce, add the Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine.
  6. 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

68 Responses to 20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta

  1. Jayne says:

    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.)

  2. Sheena says:

    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!

  3. Jessica says:

    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?

  4. Sara says:

    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!

  5. Cyndi B says:

    This was really good and very easy. Loved it!Thanks Mel.

  6. Kellie Hisey says:

    This was amazing and easy!

  7. Kim says:

    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??

  8. Jen says:

    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!

  9. Karen says:

    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.

  10. Lisa says:

    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.

  11. Teresa says:

    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!

  12. Nikie says:

    Hi Mel,
    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!

  13. Jenna says:

    We tried this last night and absolutely loved it! Simple, quick, and tasty! Thank-you!

  14. Courtney says:

    Our family loved this meal! It’s sure to make a biweekly presence! 🙂

  15. Jocelyn says:

    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!

  16. julie carlson says:

    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

  17. Jina says:

    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.

  18. Dianne says:

    ? 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 ?

    • Sandra says:

      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!:)

    • Mel says:

      They definitely add flavor and texture. You might try another nut/seed and see how it goes.

  19. Ruth says:

    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 .

  20. IG says:

    Perfect recipe. Wouldn’t change a thing. Fast, easy, and oh so delicious!

  21. Emily says:

    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!

  22. Teresa R. says:

    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!

  23. Hailey says:

    This looks great!! I always love it when you post vegan/vegetarian friendly options!! 🙂

  24. Janet says:

    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.

  25. Trish Pines says:

    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!!!

  26. Rachel says:

    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! 🙂

  27. Sarah says:

    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!!

  28. Brenda says:

    It looks really delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Mary says:

    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.

  30. Heidi says:

    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

  31. Linda says:

    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.

  32. Paige says:

    This sauce looks incredible! We’ll have to try this soon!

  33. Melissa says:

    Just finished hearing your podcast!!! Wish I was your neighbor, lol! Thanks for sharing a part of you 🙂

  34. Stephanie says:

    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!

    • Mel says:

      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.

      • Stephanie says:

        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.

    • Liz says:

      If you can use seeds … I often use sunflower seeds in pestos. When I do, I use lemon juice as the acid.

  35. Michelle says:

    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.

  36. Lynn says:

    What could I substite for the red wine vinager? This looks so good and with tomatoes in season it is a must to try!!

  37. Aurelia says:

    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.

  38. AUDREY says:

    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.

  39. Danielle says:

    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!

  40. Liz says:

    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.

  41. D says:

    This looks terrific! Going to make it tonight.
    Does the parmesan get mixed in at the end or in the blender?

  42. Angela says:

    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!

  43. Jen T says:

    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?

    • Mel says:

      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.

  44. 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 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *