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Pesto Cavatappi Recipe - Copycat Noodles & Co

Pesto Cavatappi is a tasty copycat recipe of the famous Noodles & Company dish. This recipe uses fresh homemade basil pesto sauce. It smells and tastes amazing and is  guaranteed to please the whole family. With this recipe, you can make a mouthwatering pasta any night of the week. 

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Pesto pasta

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What is Pesto Cavatappi?

Pesto cavatappi is an Italian inspired noodle dish that is one of many options at Noodles & Company. This copycat recipe tastes just like their dish, cooks in a matter of minutes, and is definitely less expensive to make. 

Pesto sauce offers a slightly spicy, slightly nutty flavor. It goes well on noodles, but it also helps enhance the flavors of just about any vegetable you can think of. 

instant pot Pesto Cavatappi

Why make pasta in the Instant Pot?

There are several great reasons to use your Instant Pot to cook pasta. You don’t need to worry about draining the pasta when it is done. The pasta will absorb the water or broth you cook it in. When you make pasta in the Instant Pot, it is one pot meal - no need to cook the sauce separately or use a strainer. It is also a set and forget cooking method - no need to stir the noodles while cooking, manage boil-overs, or guess when the noodles are ready.

New to the Instant Pot and nervous about trying your hand at Instant Pot cooking? Take a deep breath! We’ve got you covered. Our handy guide to Instant Pot cooking called Is the Instant Pot Worth It breaks down everything you need to know to cook pasta like a pro in the pressure cooker.

pesto pasta in instant pot

How to make 

We make this recipe in the Instant Pot for ease. It’s a one pot meal and you don’t need to keep an eye on the cooking noodles. Here’s how to make the pesto and the pasta.

To make the pesto sauce, rinse your basil leaves under cool water. Shake the leaves dry. Then, add the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt, garlic, and olive oil to a high power blender or food processor. Mix on high until a smooth sauce is made. You may need to scrap the sides down a bit. Set the sauce aside when it is ready.

pesto recipe

Set your Instant Pot on sauté mode and add the oil and cherry tomatoes when the inner pot is hot. Sauté the tomatoes for about 30 seconds or until they start to wilt. Remove the tomatoes from the inner pot and set aside.

Next, add the garlic and mushrooms to the inner pot and sauté for about 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Add in the pesto sauce and mix together well.

Pesto cavatappi step by step

After the mushrooms are covered in sauce, add in the noodles, water, and salt to taste. Do not stir the noodles at this point.

Set the Instant Pot to manual pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the pressure to slowly release for about 5 minutes and then do a quick release to remove the remaining pressure.

Remove the lid and pour in the heavy cream or milk and give everything a good stir. Turn on sauté and sauté the pasta for a few minutes to help the sauce thicken. Top with the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Serve the pasta hot in bowls or plates.

Pesto cavatappi step by step

Pro tips and tricks

Follow these tips and tricks to make the best basil pesto pasta:

  • do not pressure cook the tomatoes because they will become too mushy
  • do not pressure cook the cream or milk because it will separate
  • use homemade pesto sauce  in this recipe, it enhances the flavors. However, if you are really in a pinch you could always use store bought pesto sauce!
  • we use cavatappi noodles which are like a macaroni noodle that is in the shape of a spiral, you can use them or other similarly shaped noodles if you prefer
  • You can use gluten-free pasta to make this pesto pasta
  • do not stir the noodle before pressure cooking the pasta

Can I make this Pesto Pasta Vegan?

Yes! You can make this pesto vegan. To do so, substitute the Parmesan cheese with ground up cashew meal. Also, substitute the cream or milk with a dairy free version that has a neutral flavor, such as soy milk or almond milk.

pesto cavatappi

How do I ensure that my tomatoes do not become too mushy?

To avoid mushy tomatoes, only cook them on sauté mode with some oil for about 30 seconds or until they just start to wilt. Remove them from the heat and set aside while you pressure cook the pasta. Once the pasta is ready, you then top it with the prepared tomatoes.

Can you reheat Pesto Pasta?

Pasta is best served fresh, but if you want to reheat leftovers for lunch, you definitely can. When you store the pasta, allow it to cool completely and place it in a microwave safe and airtight container. When you are ready to reheat it, cover it with a damp paper towel and microwave the pasta for about 1 to 2 minutes or until it is warmed through.

If you want, you can pre-make the pesto sauce. Store it in an airtight container for up to about 4 days in the refrigerator. Add it to this recipe when you are ready to make it or add a spoonful of the pesto to our Vegan Spaghetti Noodles recipe.

pesto pasta

What can you serve it with?

This pasta goes great with a side of fresh bread, breadsticks or dinner rolls. You can also serve it with your favorite main dishes like eggplant parmesan or roasted vegetables.

Can I add other vegetables?

Yes, you can definitely add more vegetables. You can add sliced colorful bell peppers. You could also add broccoli, just cook covered for 1 minute at the end. If you have other vegetables you like, you can definitely try adding them.

Pesto Cavatappi

Other pasta dishes you might like

Love pasta and want some more ideas of how to make them? Here are some of our favorite pasta dishes featuring flavors from different parts of the world:

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Pesto Cavatappi

Pesto Cavatappi

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Pesto Cavatappi is a tasty copycat recipe of the famous Noodles & Company dish. This recipe uses fresh homemade basil pesto sauce. It smells and tastes amazing and is  guaranteed to please the whole family. With this recipe, you can make a mouthwatering pasta any night of the week. 

Ingredients

For Pesto

  • Fresh basil leaves - 1- 1/2 cups
  • Freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces) - 1/2 cup
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 1/4 cup
  • Pine nuts - 1/3 cup
  • Garlic cloves, minced - 3
  • Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Freshly ground black pepper - 1/4 teaspoon

For Pasta

  • Pesto - 1/2 cup 
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Cavatappi Pasta - 8 oz
  • Fresh white mushrooms (sliced thickly) 1 -1/2 cup
  • Olive oil - 1 tablespoon
  • Cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) - 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves (roughly chopped) -2 cloves
  • some shredded Parmesan cheese (for garnish) (optional)
  • Heavy Whipping Cream or milk - 1/4 cup  (optional)

Instructions

    Prepare the Pesto Sauce

    1. Rinse Basil leaves in cold water
    2. In a food processor or high-power blender, combine basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts ,salt, garlic, and olive oil.
    3. Your Pesto sauce is ready.


    For the Pasta

    1. Set Instant pot to Sauté Mode
    2. Once you see the HOT message, add oil and cherry tomatoes
    3. Sauté the tomatoes for around 30 seconds.
    4. Remove the tomatoes out and set them aside.
    5. Add the chopped garlic and the mushrooms to the inner pot
    6. Sauté them for around 1 minute.
    7. Add the pesto sauce and mix the ingredients well and then add the Cavatappi pasta to the inner pot
    8. Add water and salt to taste.
    9. Do not stir.
    10. Set the Pressure cooker to Manual/Pressure Cook with High Pressure, for 5 minutes.
    11. Once the timer is up, allow around 5 minutes for NPR (natural pressure release).
    12. Use the quick release method to let off the remaining pressure.
    13. Add in heavy cream and stir everything well.
    14. You can saute the pasta for a few minutes if you like the sauce a bit thicker.
    15. Top it with the cherry tomatoes that were set aside earlier.
    16. You can top it with Parmesan cheese
    17. Serve hot and enjoy !

Notes

  • Do not pressure cook the tomatoes because they will become too mushy
  • Do not pressure cook the cream or milk because it will separate
  • Use homemade pesto sauce  in this recipe, it enhances the flavors.However, if you are really in a pinch you could always use store bought Pesto sauce
  • We use cavatappi noodles which are like a macaroni noodle that is in the shape of a spiral, you can use them or other similarly shaped noodles if you prefer
  • You can use gluten-free pasta to make this pesto pasta
  • Do not stir the noodle before pressure cooking the pasta
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 613Total Fat 50gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 35gCholesterol 37mgSodium 539mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 16g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. We are not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on TheBellyRulesTheMind.net should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though we try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of our ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

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