A big plate of creamy pesto pasta is exactly what the weekend needs. Bucatini tossed in a vibrant pesto sauce and topped with crispy pine nut breadcrumbs. Flavors of fresh basil, garlic, lemon, honey, and parmesan run throughout. It is absolutely delicious and makes for a tasty side dish to any spring or summer main.
pesto pasta with pine nut breadcrumbs – the details
Last year I created this creamy pumpkin pasta with rosemary almond breadcrumbs that was insanely good. It quickly became a new favorite pasta of mine, so I wanted to create a spring/summer version to enjoy this time of year.
The result was this pesto pasta with pine nut breadcrumbs. Similar textures, different flavors…equally as good.
You’ll first want to make the breadcrumbs. I’m using fresh ciabatta bread and pine nuts to create a really tasty topping for the pasta. Pine nuts have a buttery taste to them which becomes even more fragrant when toasted. You can’t beat the texture contrast between the creamy pesto sauce, the al dente bucatini, and the crispy breadcrumbs.
Next, you’ll throw all of the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and pulse until smooth. It’s a really classic pesto made with your usual suspects – basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil – and a couple of special touches. Lots of lemon zest and juice for brightness and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.
As the pasta cooks, you’ll create the base of the sauce in a skillet with melted butter, cream, and pasta water. Once slightly thickened, the pasta and pesto get added right on in. Toss everything together for a few minutes for the pasta to finish cooking and the sauce to cling to every strand.
It comes together really quickly and should be eaten immediately for the creamiest texture. Just swirl it onto a large platter and top with those crispy pine nut breadcrumbs…plus plenty of grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil for good measure.Print
Pesto Pasta with Pine Nut Breadcrumbs
bucatini pasta tossed in a vibrant pesto sauce with crispy pine nut breadcrumbs over top
Pine Nut Breadcrumbs
- 2 oz fresh ciabatta bread, roughly torn into pieces
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp pine nuts
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 4 packed cups fresh basil (approx. 2 oz)
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- freshly cracked black pepper
- ¾ lb bucatini
- 4 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- extra basil and grated parmesan, for topping
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- For the breadcrumbs, pulse the bread in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the ¼ cup of pine nuts. Continue to pulse until crumbs are formed. Heat a 12” skillet over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of pine nuts and toast until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the nuts out of the skillet and set aside.
- Add enough olive oil to the skillet to generously coat the bottom. Once hot, add the breadcrumb mixture to the oil. Toast for about 6 minutes, stirring often, until golden and crisp. Transfer the crumbs to a plate lined with a paper towel (reserve the skillet). Season with a pinch of salt.
- For the pesto pasta, add the basil, garlic, parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey to a food processor. Pulse to combine. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Drop the bucatini in the boiling water. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes less than the package’s instructions.
- Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Pour in the cream and a ¼ cup of starchy pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken.
- Drain the pasta and add it straight to the sauce, along with the pesto. Stir for a couple of minutes until the sauce clings to the pasta. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
- Plate the pasta with the breadcrumbs, lots of parmesan cheese, and fresh basil over top.