Preserves in Action: Whole Wheat Pesto Pasta

April 1, 2012(updated on October 3, 2018)

frozen pesto

Most summers, I try to make up a couple of batches of pesto for the freezer. I don’t follow any particular recipe, instead just filling my food process with basil, parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts (who can afford pine nuts these days?) and olive oil until it all tastes good.

I use it throughout the year in salad dressings, on pizzas and spooned onto soup. Rarely though, do I do what most people do, which is use it in pasta. So for some of you, what you’re about to read is going to feel a little like me suggesting that you spread jam on toast. Just go with it.

dinner made with frozen pesto

Last week, I was dealing with a flu-like aliment and an impending trip to a conference where I knew I was going to be doing a lot of eating. I was tired of take-out or soup from the freezer and wanted something uncomplicated and a bit comforting.

So I roasted a couple bundles of asparagus, pan-seared a package of chicken tenders* and melted three generous spoonfuls of pesto into some hot whole wheat angel hair pasta. It was one of those meals where between bites, Scott and I kept looking at one another and saying, “this so good!” Sometimes simple really is best.

*When I say chicken tenders, I mean those thin strips of uncooked breast meat that come from the back of the breast piece. They are the speediest thing ever.

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20 thoughts on "Preserves in Action: Whole Wheat Pesto Pasta"

  • I am so excited to (again) plant basil in my garden and raised beds. Thanks for the suggestion to use walnuts instead of pine nuts for the pesto!

  • I don’t know why I never freeze pesto. I love to make it, but never make enough to put any up. You’ve inspired me to make a big batch sometime soon!

  • Love pesto and by this time of the year, I’m out of it and craving for late July for more! I usually put it in ice cube trays and freeze it, then take it out of the trays and put it in a plastic zipper bag to save on space, as you can kind of mold the bag to the shape your freezer takes with all the other stuff in it.

    I agree…I don’t usually use it on pasta either, so this post is a GREAT reminder! I tend to use it in soups, mayo for sandwiches and dips…so I’ll have to get some basil or pre-made pesto and have a nice dinner…

  • I love pesto! The first time I made pesto (on pasta) my husband said “What’s that?” Seriously? He had never had pesto! Now I’m hungry.

  • what do you do for the salad dressing? A creamy one or vinaigrette? somehow I’ve never thought of doing this! tell me more. 🙂

    1. When I make salad dressing with pesto, I just whisk in a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Just until it’s thin enough to pour. Then I drizzle it on everything. Delicious!

  • I am the SAME way – used it on hamburgers and roasted Brussels sprouts this weekend. Added some Sun-Dried tomatoes and I was in HEAVEN. If you have a big warehouse store near you, a 32oz bag is only $7.

  • My basil pesto reserves were exhausted months ago, but I think I may even like arugula and dandelion pestos even more. Pecans make the arugula pesto sweeter, and if you have not had dandelion pesto, you must try it immediately! I use the coddled dandelion bunches grown in the lush fields of California (from Whole Foods), but if you have enough in your (unsprayed) yard, why not?

  • Hi! I am planning on growing tons of basil this summer to put up as pesto. Thanks for getting me to think outside the box as far as how I will use it. I can’t wait to try it in salad dressing!

  • Every summer we have mountains of basil, and I always make pesto, but why didn’t I ever think to freeze it?? The flavor of pesto is pure summer; it would be such a treat on a winter’s day.

  • I freeze “simplified” pesto in small containers for winter use and my kids get excited when we have “green mayonnaise” (pesto stirred into mayo for sandwiches) or “green noodles.” I just blend the basil, garlic and oil and freeze. I don’t stir the cheese into it until I defrost it. It takes less room in the freezer that way and also I think the cheese tastes better fresh, and we have nut allergies in the house so I can’t use nuts.

    Sometimes I also make pesto with parsley, or fresh spinach, or a mixture of basil and either of those two. It is nice to have “green noodles” tasting of summer during the dreary months 🙂

  • Yum! My whole family loves pesto. My daughter asked for pesto pasta with asparagus for her birthday tonight. So easy and so good.

  • Yes, I use it on pasta; once in a while. I find it overpowering in/on pasta. My fave? Open-face toasted cheese sandwich. Always shredded cheese, on top of my home-made bread; with a dollop of mustard and a dollop of basil pesto, spread beneath that bubbly cheese and a sprinkling of thyme. …. p.s. yes, a side of pickled beets; oh, hog-heaven! ..yummm, cheers!

  • OMG! It’s 5AM and my mouth is watering for pesto!!! I can’t wait until our garden has enough basil. Our freezer’s plug went out, and we lost EVERYTHING!!!

    But starting to refill it will be fun!
    Two in the Nest

  • Heh. And here I thought I was an anomaly. All sorts of frozen pesto at our house, and nary a bit goes into pasta… which isn’t to say it isn’t good that way! Love the way it pulls a dinner together in no time — which is perfect for when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

  • I love pesto- it is a go-to condiment in our house in the summer months, but the one time I tried to freeze it, I ended up with not-so-pretty dark pesto. Any hints for how to keep it green?