Pesto Pasta Bake

5 from 19 votes

This pesto pasta bake is a match made in heaven. Made with just 4 ingredients, you add cheese, bake, and you will get the most irresistible dish ever. 

pesto pasta bake.

We love quick and easy pasta dishes, especially if they involve minimal prep.

Some of our favorites include protein pasta, low calorie pasta, and shrimp pesto pasta. Our favorite, though, is a pesto pasta bake.  

Why this recipe works 

  • A delicious way to use leftover pasta. Pasta bakes are one of the most delicious and easy ways to use leftover pasta.
  • Just 4 ingredients. Pesto, pasta, cheese, and peas. 
  • An easy freezer meal. If you are busy on weeknights, assemble this pesto pasta bake in advance and freeze it. Bake it whenever you need a quick meal. 

What I love about this recipe is just how fast it is to make. It can be made in advance or the night of- it’s the ultimate dump-and-bake dinner. 

Ingredients needed

This pesto pasta bake comes together in just a few minutes. You need only four simple ingredients to make it. 

  • Pasta. I use ziti pasta for this recipe which is a tube-shaped pasta variety. Feel free to use other types of pasta, including fusilli, penne, rotini, and longer types of pasta, such as tagliatelle, bucatini, and fettuccine. 
  • Pesto sauce. The key ingredient of this baked pasta dish. I prefer using traditional basil pesto sauce. 
  • Cheese. Use grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese for a rich cheesy flavor. 
  • Green peas. Cooked green peas add extra flavor and texture to this pesto pasta bake. 

How to make a pesto pasta bake

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drain the pasta, add in the pesto, and cooked green peas.

pesto pasta with green peas.

Mix well and transfer the pasta mixture into a greased baking dish. 

pesto pasta in baking dish.

Top the pasta with shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

cheese on pasta bake.

Bake until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown. 

baked pasta with pesto and cheese.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Use freshly made homemade pesto. While using store-bought pesto makes the preparation of this dish a lot easier, I do recommend you use homemade pesto whenever possible.  
  • Add heavy cream. Using heavy cream in your pesto pasta bake will make it extra creamy and cheesy. 
  • Use freshly grated cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts better and yields creamier results. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with additives to prevent it from clumping. But these additives don’t let the cheese melt smoothly. 

Variations 

The beauty of this baked pasta recipe is just how easy it is to customize with a plethora of mix-ins or flavors. Here are some ideas:

  • Add tomatoes. Use fresh cherry tomatoes to make this pasta bake more flavorful. Sun-died tomatoes will work too. They will add an intense sweet-tart flavor to this pasta dish. 
  • Use spinach pesto. Spinach pesto tastes just as great in this recipe. The flavor of spinach pesto is quite close to the flavor of traditional basil pesto. It’s bright and herby. 
  • Top with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the pasta with breadcrumbs before baking it. The crispy breadcrumb topping will contrast nicely with the creamy pasta.  
  • Make it spicy with chili flakes. If you enjoy your food with a little spicy kick, use chili flakes. 
  • Add protein. Chicken pairs with pesto pasta, as does salmon and tuna.

Storage instructions 

To store: Refrigerate this pesto pasta as soon as it cools. Put the leftover cheese-baked pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. 

To freeze: This pesto pasta bake freezes quite well. Once you have baked it, let it cool, and then cover the baking dish with food wrap. You can also freeze this pasta bake in portions using airtight plastic containers. This will keep for up to two months. 

To reheat: Microwave portions of the pasta for 30-45 seconds until hot, or in a preheated oven. 

pesto baked pasta.

What goes with pesto pasta bake

Because the baked pasta is rich and flavorful, pair it with simply cooked vegetables. We like these air fried options:

Frequently asked questions 

Do you add pesto to hot or cold pasta?

Mixing pesto with hot pasta is not recommended as the heat causes the sauce to change its color. On the other hand, cold pasta doesn’t soak up the flavors of the sauce well. Thus, your best bet would be to mix pesto with warm pasta.

Is this gluten free?

When made with gluten free pasta, this dish is suitable for celiacs.

pesto pasta bake recipe.

Pesto Pasta Bake | 4 Ingredients

This pesto pasta bake is a match made in heaven. Made with just 4 ingredients, you add cheese, bake, and you will get the most irresistible dish ever.
5 from 19 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 325kcal
Author: Arman

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti pasta uncooked
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a large baking dish.
  • Cook the pasta as instructed. Once cooked, drain and add back into the pan. Stir through the pesto, then the green peas.
  • Transfer the pasta to the baking dish and top with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake the pasta for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
  • Remove the pasta from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, before serving.

Notes

TO STORE: Refrigerate this pesto pasta as soon as it cools. Put the leftover cheese-baked pasta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
TO FREEZE: This pesto pasta bake freezes quite well. Once you have baked it, let it cool, and then cover the baking dish with food wrap. You can also freeze this pasta bake in portions using airtight plastic containers. This will keep for up to two months. 
TO REHEAT: Microwave portions of the pasta for 30-45 seconds until hot, or in a preheated oven. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 504mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 4g | Vitamin A: 899IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 338mg | Iron: 1mg | NET CARBS: 35g
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

 

Comments

81 thoughts on “Pesto Pasta Bake

  1. Hahahahaha I love that you just compared peas to ugly diamonds. That is the best part of this entire post 😉

    1. Fail. The recipe is the best part of the post :p

      Guess who’s eaten potatoes 3 times a day for 4 days in a row…3 to go!

  2. I loveeeee peas & pasta. Pasta carbonara = love.Pesto + anything. Peas + anything. You know what’s creepy… on a can of peas in the US it says “not a low calorie food”. Like peas are a vegetable/legume how can you try and trick people into thinking they aren’t healthy?

    1. Dude you have craving carbonara now…extra bacon. extra cheese. extra cream.

      …..Are you serious? They actually have that tagline on food products?!

  3. Cheese seems to take food porn to an X-rated level always!
    I am not a hooge fan of pasta – but my daughter loves that stuff – her fav mix in is – you guessed it – CHEESE!

  4. Mmmm…seeing as I’m at work at the moment and don’t have access to my kitchen, perhaps you can send this over to me for lunch!?! 😉 Ha! It looks amazing, Arman! Pesto makes anything taste so, so good! I can’t wait to make it!

    1. Thanks, Holly- you can even make it with spaghetti squash if you like that!

      Unfortunately, I might go to jail if trying to send it!

  5. I love you for this. I know it sounds weird, but frozen peas are seriously one of my favorite foods 😉

    1. FROZEN peas? Really! I’ll need to venture out and try that. I’ve had frozen peas….on my black eye before 😉

  6. i want to face plant this now! I can’t wait for st. paddy’s day. #wholeCotter approved… add corn and it’d be #CORNYCOTTER approved. bahahaha

    1. My mum totally made it corny cotter way when I was growing up- peas, corn, tuna, cream and pasta. #wholeMum.

  7. This isn’t tandoori.

    unless it’s tandoori, my brain doesn’t register this as a “recipe”.

    TRY HARDER TO PLEASE ME

    1. How about Tandoori covered Lex?

      Hm…..let me do some thinking, I might have something in the works.

      PS totally ordered a random piece of chicken tikka from a fast food foodcourt because I was still hungry after lunch.

  8. Mmm yes to pasta + pesto + cheese! Love it!

    Pesto is definitely one of my favourite pasta mix ins, but chicken sausage is also amazing.

    And I don’t really like peas. 😛

    1. Dude, I had a look for decent chicken sausage here in australia…get this. The best of the bunch only had like 65% chicken in it. FAIL.

  9. OOO I am so tuning in for Sunday’s SPILL IT 😉 I shall SPILL IT ALL in my comment!! ha ha ha ah! You know me, the Protein Queen!

    PS: I loved the selfie from you today!!!!!!!

    1. Hahaha I’ll keep them coming! You are indeed the meat queen. Salmon on the side.

  10. Looking forward to reading this week’s Spill It!

    The pasta recipe sounds marvelous.

    Peas and carrots (that was always a side at school. Totally gross. They did not taste like peas and carrots at all.)

    Pasta and alfredo sauce is the best!

    1. ALFREDO CRAVING. Well that and carbonara.

      Thanks Madison- peas and carrots were childhood hates when they tasted like nothing. Except when doused with gravy!

  11. Oh child you are putting together some of my favorite things: veggies, pasta, pesto and cheese. I could take this without the peas, but my Hubby would face plant into this bake as is. He is a man who likes his peas.
    Pesto with everything.
    Peas with nothing.

    1. Please do me a favour and make the hubs a meal featuring a side of mashed potatoes and peas. If he mixes them together….I may come to america to visit him instead 😉

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