One of my favorite herbs is basil with its unique fragrance and flavor. You’ll find it in our garden every summer. And one of my favorite recipes to make with it is Basil Pesto Cavatappi similar to the dish you’ll find at Noodles and Company.
This year we grew basil in our vegetable garden and in garden pots. Much to my surprise, the basil in the pots fared much better. Maybe the basil in the garden was too crowded by the tomatoes.
The first time I ever tasted Basil Pesto Cavatappi was at the chain restaurant, Noodles and Co. So I worked at creating the same dish at home, and this one is pretty darn close. I add a bit more tomatoes and mushrooms than they give you at the restaurant. I like the acidity of the tomatoes paired with the basil.
Basil pesto is super easy to make. You throw the basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese in a blender and puree the ingredients into a creamy pesto. Mix well with cavatappi noodles – cavatappi means “corkscrew” in Italian. It’s a fun little pasta!
Basil Pesto Cavatappi with Tomatoes and Mushrooms
- 16 oz. cavatappi
- 4 small Roma tomatoes
- 8 oz. portabello mushrooms sliced
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Dice tomatoes and set aside. Cook mushrooms in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, until mushrooms release their liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and 1/2 cup of the oil in a blender and pulse until somewhat coarse. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil and blend at medium speed until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
Cook the cavatappi according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Stir in the basil pesto until noodles are well covered. Toss in tomatoes and mushrooms and serve immediately. Garnish with basil leaves and grated Parmesan, if desired.