Easy Red Pesto Pasta with Chili Pesto

This red pesto pasta is a flavorful recipe with lots of delicious sauce. Learn how to make pesto pasta that is not drowning in oil. Made with homemade red chilli pesto, this pasta is low in effort and high in taste!

Chilli pesto pasta on a white plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Most pesto sauces are predominantly made with olive oil, nuts and cheese that add to the calories in pesto pasta.

In green pesto sauces like roasted garlic pesto and Thai basil pesto, you use a lot of herbs like mint and Thai basil for flavor.

In this recipe for chilli pesto pasta, you add roasted tomatoes, peppers and chilies (in addition) to make the sauce. Apart from adding to the nutritional value, they also make the pesto explode with flavors.

So you need less of the olive oil, nuts and cheese. This way, you end up with a chili pesto that you can lavishly add to the pasta without worrying much about the calories.

A healthy red pesto pasta that is full of delicious sauce and not greasy with olive oil!

Like most of my pasta recipes, this red chili pesto pasta is ideal as a quick and easy weeknight dinner with roasted vegetables or a veggie salad.

Or make it a delicious side dish for your protein like easy baked thin chicken breasts.

You can also eat it with seafood like browned butter honey garlic salmon. (Look for more options below in the “what to serve” section.)

Video

Ingredients

(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)

red chilli pesto in a blue bowl with a spoon in it.
  • Homemade red chilli pesto: The recipe makes 1½ cups. I add all of it for 4 servings of pasta. It might seem like a lot of sauce, but the pasta will absorb all of that deliciousness!
  • Pasta: Spaghetti and angel hair are my favorites. Angel hair pasta cooks very fast, as we saw in the recipe for tomato chilli prawn pasta. You can also use penne or linguine.

How To Make Red Pesto Pasta- Step by step

  1. Boil water with salt in a deep pot. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta.
  2. Keep stirring the pasta every few minutes so they don’t clump together.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain using a colander. Put the pasta back into the pot and toss with olive oil.
  4. Keep the pasta covered for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. This prevents the pasta from drying out.
  6. Add chilli pesto to the pasta and toss until well combined.
Red pesto pasta being tossed in a pot.

Tips To Make The Best Chilli Pesto Pasta

  • Cooking time: depends on the type of pasta used. Always cook 2 minutes less than the time specified on the package.
  • Al dente pasta: It means that the pasta is cooked tender enough to chew, but has a bite to it. The best way to test is to literally bite into a strand of spaghetti!
  • Draining the pasta: You can use a colander to strain. Or scoop out the spaghetti using tongs. (It’s okay to have some water in the pasta, since you need it anyway when you mix in the sauce.)
  • Pasta water: Reserve the pasta water. When you add the pesto to pasta, add a few spoons of pasta water. The starchy water will help bind the sauce to the pasta and keeps it from drying out. Pasta keeps absorbing water after it is cooked. So the longer you store it, the more water you’re going to need. If you’re making ahead or storing leftovers, store the pasta water in a separate container in the refrigerator. You’ll need it when you reheat the pasta.
Red pesto pasta on a white plate.

Storing and Reheating

This pasta keeps well (as long as the pesto sauce) for about a week. If you want to store longer, freeze it. It can be frozen for about a month. As mentioned earlier, store the pasta water too. Before serving, sprinkle a few spoons of the water and heat in the microwave.

Warming up the pesto pasta: The red pesto can take heat better than the green one. That being said, DO NOT heat the pesto pasta until it is piping hot! Just warming it up is sufficient. This chili pesto also has basil that tends to turn bitter when overheated.

What Can You Add To Red Pesto Pasta

  1. A sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan.
  2. Roasted veggies like carrots, onions, zucchini, and pumpkin. You can roast them together with peppers and tomatoes when you make the pesto.
  3. Fresh (or dried) basil, parsley or cilantro.
  4. Make it a red pesto pasta salad by adding fresh veggies. (similar to Italian pasta salad and creamy pasta salad with chicken)

What To Serve With Red Pesto Pasta

Lemon garlic chicken and potatoes

Lemon balsamic chicken with rosemary sauce

Lemon coriander chicken with yogurt sauce

Panko-crusted cod

5-ingredient pan-fried prawns and peppers

More Pasta Recipes

Chilli pesto pasta on a white plate.

Easy Red Pesto Pasta Recipe

This recipe shows you how to make a saucy red pesto pasta that is not drowning in oil. Made with red chilli pesto, this pasta is low in effort and high in taste!
Author: Sheeba
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course dinner, LUNCH, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 422 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cups Red chilli pesto
  • Pasta- spaghetti/ linguine/penne 250 – 300 grams (8 – 10 oz)
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Make the red chilli pesto. Click here for the recipe.
  • Add salt to water in a deep pot. Bring it to a boil.
  • Add the pasta. Keep stirring every few minutes so they don't clump together.
  • Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain using a colander. Put the pasta back into the pot and toss with olive oil.
  • Keep the pasta covered for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add chilli pesto to the pasta and toss until well combined. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Cooking time: depends on the type of pasta used. Always cook 2 minutes less than the time specified on the package.
  • The cooking time specified here includes the time required to make the pesto sauce. It is also based on the assumption that you cook the pasta while roasting the vegetables for the sauce.
  • Al dente pasta: It means that the pasta is cooked tender enough to chew, but has a bite to it. The best way to test is to literally bite into a strand of spaghetti!
  • Draining the pasta: You can use a colander to strain. Or scoop out the spaghetti using tongs. (It’s okay to have some water in the pasta, since you need it anyway when you mix in the sauce.)
  • Pasta water: Reserve the pasta water. When you add the pesto to pasta, add a few spoons of pasta water. The longer you store cooked pasta, the more water you’re going to need. If you’re making ahead or storing leftovers, store the pasta water in a separate container in the refrigerator. You’ll need it when you reheat the pasta.
  • Storing and reheating: This pasta keeps well (as long as the pesto sauce) for about a week. If you want to store longer, freeze it. It can be frozen for about a month. As mentioned earlier, store the pasta water too. Before serving, sprinkle a few spoons of the water and heat in the microwave.
nutrition facts for red pesto pasta

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