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This pesto pasta idea is even better than the traditional variety, thanks to fried onions. Not only do you top the bowl of pasta with the onion, you’ll also use the cooking oil to flavor the pesto—infusing the taste of sautéed onions in the sauce. Instead of pine nuts, which, while classic, can be expensive, roasted salted almonds are an affordable shortcut. Shopping tip: If you can’t find cavatappi—a ridged spiraled tube shape—look for another ridged tube shape like penne, or a spiral like fusilli. The key is pasta that will hold the sauce so you’ll get pesto in each bite.

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Credit: Anna Williams

Recipe Summary test

hands-on:
15 mins
total:
35 mins
Yield:
4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Combine oil and onion in a small skillet over medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until onion starts to darken around edges, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer oil in skillet to a small heatproof bowl (adding more oil if needed to make ¼ cup). Set aside.

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  • Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted water according to package directions for al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

  • Combine parsley, cheese, almonds, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, 6 to 8 times. Add reserved onion oil, ¾ cup reserved pasta water, and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt to food processor. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, adding more pasta water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Transfer pesto to a large bowl; add cooked pasta and toss to combine. Top with fried onions.

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