Pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes is a brilliant 15 minute meal that comes together while the pasta cooks!
As we all know, pasta is the secret to so many favorite 30 minute (or less) meals. It’s carby and comforting and so satisfying. Plus there’s no fuss ~ just boil some water, toss in some salt, and then then throw in the pasta by the handful. One for you, two for me. This pasta with pesto and blistered tomatoes couldn’t be simpler, and when you need dinner in a hurry this is the one.
How does it work? The cherry tomatoes blister and pop in just moments over high heat in a skillet, making their own juicy sauce for pasta tossed with lots of bright homemade pesto. What could be more perfect for tonight?
what you’ll need for pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes
- I used the good stuff: important Italian pasta in a fun, open twist shape. See below for details.
- this recipe presupposes you’ve got some fabulous homemade pesto stashed in your fridge. If not, if will only add a few more minutes to your timeline to make it.
- cherry tomatoes
- go with all red or colorful heirlooms. Smaller cherries work best for this recipe, and you want round, not grape shaped tomatoes.
- olive oil
- coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- toasted pine nuts
- aged Italian cheese, grated
the blistered tomatoes
What are they? They’re simply cherry tomatoes that you toss in a skillet over high heat with a little olive oil. They sizzle and spit and, in a matter of moments get soft, glossy, and slightly charred. Some will split their skins and ooze a delicious warm sauce.
The moral of this recipe is: don’t necessarily be satisfied with grocery store pasta. There’s a whole other world to explore, and in my experience imported pasta from Italy is absolutely incredible. For this pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes I use Pasta Di Gragnano* in the Fidanzati Capresi shape, which is a large voluptuous curled pasta that really grabs my pesto and makes this dish so special. It has a tender meaty chew unlike any other pasta I’ve had. It would be amazing with Bolognese sauce, I bet. Or Cacio e Pepe.
*This type os pasta has earned Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, designed to protect and promote regional or traditional food products that have specific qualities or characteristics associated with their geographical origin. Is this pasta worth the hype and the extra effort to find it? In a word, yes.
where to find imported Italian pasta
Look for imported Italian pasta in gourmet stores, or stores like Cost Plus/World Market. You’ll find a treasure trove of Italian pasta online, too.
the homemade pesto
I don’t have anything new to say about homemade pesto. It’s just epic and there is no substitute. I make it whenever I’m lucky enough to have a quantity of good looking basil, and I’ll freeze what I can’t use right away. The flavor is one of the most intensely delightful in the food world, and if you use a prefab pesto you’re missing out. If you’re someone who isn’t afraid of a bit of heat, make my Spicy Basil Pesto.
the toasted pine nuts
Another earthly delight I’ve raved about over and over. They make the perfect toasty topping for pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes. Come to think of it this easy meal really layers on the great flavors!
15 minute timeline for pesto pasta with blistered tomatoes
- Put pasta water on the stove to boil over high heat.
- Toast pine nuts in a little olive oil.
- Cook pasta according to directions.
- Blister the tomatoes over high heat using the same pan you used for the pine nuts.
- Drain pasta and toss with fresh pesto.
- Plate the pasta and top with hot tomatoes.
- Garnish with pine nuts and Parmesan.
more quick pasta meals to try
- Easy Pasta Alla Checca
- Cacio e Pepe Macaroni and Cheese
- Weeknight Peanut Butter Noodles
- Smoked Salmon Mac and Cheese
- Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti ~ a no cook sauce!
- Dan Dan Noodles ~ Easy Weeknight Recipe
Pasta with Pesto and Blistered Tomatoes
- Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile toast the pine nuts in a teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat until lightly golden. Stir almost constantly because this happens fast. Remove the pine nuts and set aside.
- In the same pan add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium high heat until hot. Add the cherry tomatoes and saute, shaking the pan to redistribute the tomatoes. Keep the pan moving until the tomatoes have started to blister and you see a few black marks develope. Some of the tomatoes may start to burst. Remove from the heat.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto. Top with the blistered tomatoes, the pine nuts, shredded Parm, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Serve asap.