Fresh pesto is wonderful tossed with hot pasta. Top with freshly cracked black pepper, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toasted pine nuts, and you'll have a protein-packed, vegetarian approved 👍🏼 meal in minutes.
Total carbs 25g, net carbs 20g
You're probably asking yourself, did I read that right? Did she say "pasta" as in 🍝 pasta? Yes, you can enjoy pasta in moderation on a low-carb diet. Just watch your portions and eat it only occasionally. When sauced in low-carb pesto, rather than tomato sauce, it is easier to keep the carb count under control.
Ingredients you’ll need
A cup of cooked spaghetti has 43 grams of carbs. Stick to third cup portions of pasta to stay under 30 grams of carbs per meal. You can use any pasta that you like, really. Just watch the portions. Fusilli, which is a corkscrew shaped pasta (remember "The Fusilli Jerry" episode on Seinfeld? 🤣), is great for catching all that pesto. Fettuccine, gnocchi, penne and rigatoni are also fun choices.
For the pesto:
It's summer 🌞 and there is an abundance of fresh basil growing in my container garden! A great way to make use of all this fresh basil 🍃🍃🍃 is to make pesto. It is also a great way to preserve basil since pesto can be frozen for up to a year. If you are in a hurry, feel free to use pre-made pesto from your local farm stand or store.
Basil is a superfood with many health benefits including helping to reduce high blood sugar levels, according to this WebMD article.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pine nuts are a classic ingredient in pesto. However, they are expensive. You can substitute pine nuts with other types of nuts such as walnuts, pecans and cashews. Or leave out the nuts if you are allergic.
- Garlic adds a bold kick of pungent flavor.
- Parmesan cheese. Get a Parmesan wedge and use a vegetable peeler to shave cheese slivers over the final dish.
- Lemon juice not only lightens the flavor of pesto, but the acid in the lemon juice is necessary to protect crushed basil from oxidation. This keeps it bright and green as opposed to an unappetizing black.
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
You can make pesto ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store it in a covered container with a thin layer of oil poured over the surface to protect it from oxidation (turning black).
Freeze pesto in ice cube trays, transfer from ice trays to freezer bags once frozen, and use through the next 6 months.
Or you can store it in freezer containers, press down pesto and pour a thin layer of oil over the surface to protect it from oxidation and freeze for up to a year.
- If a third of a cup of pasta leaves you feeling hungry, add grilled chicken, shrimp or fresh mozzarella for satisfying extra protein.
- Serve with a salad.
- Serve with a side of cooked vegetables such as broccoli or spinach with garlic and oil.
- Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Add garlic and crushed red pepper for spice.
Fresh pesto is wonderful tossed with hot pasta. Top with freshly cracked black pepper, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toasted pine nuts, and you'll have a protein-packed vegetarian-friendly meal in minutes.
For the pesto
- 3 cups basil leaves
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
For pesto pasta
- 1 and ⅓ cups spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 12 leaves basil
- 8 olives
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make the pesto
- Toast all pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 3-5 minutes until golden. Check every couple of minutes and give the baking sheet a shake to make sure that they don’t burn. Set aside 4 tablespoons of pine nuts to garnish the plated dish.
- In a mortar, pound the pine nuts and garlic into a thick paste. (You may also use a food processor for this.)
- Tear up basil leaves and add to the mortar or food processor with the pine nuts and garlic. Mash into a thick paste.
- Transfer the paste into a mixing bowl and stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil a little bit at a time. Stirring constantly. Mix thoroughly.
Prepare the pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta. Cook for the amount of time specified on the package. Reserve a ½ cup of pasta water. Drain well. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add pasta water. Add pesto and toss to coat.
- To serve, use a large fork or a two-pronged carving fork to twirl pasta. Divide 4 ways for plating.
- Garnish plated pasta with shaved Parmesan cheese, freshly cracked black pepper, toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Get a Parmesan wedge and use a vegetable peeler to shave cheese slivers over the final dish.
You can substitute pine nuts with other types of nuts such as walnuts, pecans and cashews. Or leave out the nuts if you are allergic.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Pesto pasta low-carb healthy basil pine nuts Parmesan cheese olive oil