Baked pesto pasta is my perfect summer comfort food.
Seriously. This dish of herby noodles with melted cheese, tomatoes that pop and crunchy breadcrumbs?
I’m in heaven.
I’ve never been so excited about my basil! It’s doing incredibly well this year. Maybe because I have more time to take care of it? Ha.
Anyway – I make pesto often in the summer but this year, I’m making it constantly.
It’s just so perfect in a million different dishes.
My obsession with pesto bucatini runs deep! A few years ago I made a pistachio pesto bucatini with burrata and it’s wonderful. I just love bucatini so much. I rarely want a long noodle for my pasta dishes, but if I do, it’s ALWAYS bucatini! The thickness is perfect.
This baked version came to mind after I made baked spaghetti one night. I rarely make it in the summer, but it had been rainy and a mess of a day. That’s one of our favorite comfort foods that usually happens in the cooler months. And I just knew I could make a pesto-y summer version.
So here we are!
It’s very versatile because you can use whatever pesto you would like. Homemade? Do a traditional or arugula or even kale. Store bought? No problem. Either works!
I also like to make the bursting roasted tomatoes while I prep the pasta and pesto. They add a ton of flavor.
Toss everything with lots of cheese before baking. Oh and breadcrumbs on top! The BEST part. Texture, of course!
I may frame these noodles in my kitchen, just FYI.
The other great thing? This can be your dinner tonight OR it works as a great side dish for a dinner party. Or a nice little pasta to take to a potluck! You know, when we can have things like that again.
Like most pastas, leftovers are divine. And easy. Possibly even more flavorful because of the pesto.
Oh and you can toss in some roasted veggies too, if you want. It’s an awesome vehicle for using whatever is leftover in the fridge.
Get your twirling fork ready!
Baked Pesto Pasta
Yield: 4 to 6 people
This baked pesto pasta is made with bucatini and burst tomatoes. Lots of cheese, crunchy breadcrumbs and fresh basil. Delicious!
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch salt and pepper
- 2 cups packed fresh basil
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 3 garlic cloves
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound bucatini
- 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
- ¼ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
- fresh basil, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are just bursting.
While the tomatoes are in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions.
Make the pesto! Place the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, red peppers flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse until small pieces remain. Blend while streaming in the olive oil until combined.
Toss the pasta with the pesto and place it in the 9×13 dish. Toss in the burst tomatoes and almost all of the cheese, reserving a bit for the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheesy and warm and golden.
Remove and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve!
Cozy summer on a dish