A traditional pesto is made with herbs, nuts, oil, and parmesan, we decided to change that up a little. Welcome our Pea Pesto Pasta Bake. This pesto still holds true to the herby flavor you think of with this type of dish, however it is much creamier and less nutty. Made with fresh basil, frozen peas, parmesan, and garlic, this pesto is sure to be your new favorite weeknight meal. Check out the recipe below!
Pea Pesto Pasta Bake
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ cup olive or avocado oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 zucchini sliced
- 1 bell pepper sliced or chopped
- ½ yellow onion sliced
- 1 lb rigatoni or ziti pasta
- 2 chicken breasts cubed
- 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 1 ½ cup mozzarella shredded
- ⅔ cup parmesan cheese shredded or grated
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Add all pesto ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth
- Slice zucchini and place on paper towels, add salt to the top to help remove the water
- In a saute pan over medium head add oil
- Add chicken to the pan and saute until cooked majority of the way. It's okay if this is not 165° because we will be baking this as well
- Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water
- Take the salted zucchini and squeeze out the water. This is important because it will allow the pasta to keep the thick pesto sauce. If you skip this step the bake will become watery.
- In a large baking dish add the pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onion, chicken, and pesto. Mix well
- Stir in the mozzarella cheese and even the pesto pasta out in the pan. If you feel the mixture is too thick add a ¼ cup pasta water at a time to get your desired consistency
- Top the pasta off by covering it in parmesan before putting in the oven
- Bake in the oven uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the top begins to crisp and brown
- Remove from oven and serve!
Baked to perfection, this Pea Pesto Pasta Bake gets nice and crisp on top with the addition of mozzarella and extra parmesan. We love to bake this dish but if you don’t feel like turning the oven on you certainly do not have to! Feel free to make this Pea Basil Pesto and add it to you pasta as is or use it as a nice dip with some fresh veggies and crackers. If you decide to not bake this dish, I do suggest added the 1/4 cup of pasta water to the sauce so it thins out a bit while still keeping a tight hold to your noodles.
What else should I add to this bake?
This Pea Pesto Pasta Bake can be made without anything else but the pasta, pesto, and cheese. It will be yummy and filling for sure. But if you are like us and want to sneak in some veggies and make this dish a bit heartier you definitely can and definitely should! We love to add some veggies that take to whatever sauce or seasoning you are adding it to like zucchini and peppers. Both of those veggies do not hold a strong flavor and change the taste of the dish so they are perfect for this. We also added some chicken which always goes well with pesto and some cherry tomatoes for a little burst of flavor in this Pea Pesto Pasta Bake.
From our kitchen to yours, cheers!