In case you never had it, a pesto sauce is compromised of four simple ingredients: basil, olive oil, garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese. And it has one pricier, harder-to-find member: pine nuts. Good thing this recipe has you subbing the much more accessible and affordable raw sunflower seeds for them, with it still tasting perfectly pesto and being super budget-friendly! As if that wasn’t enough, I also show you ways on how to add things you may have forgotten about in your freezer to liven it up even more. Pasta Pesto is perfection.
Making The Pesto Sauce
The Finishing Touches
Trying It Out!
- 1 pound linguine (see Jeff's Tips)
- 4 cups broth of your choice (for a bit more flavor) OR water
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pats (optional, but suggested)
The Pesto Sauce (this will make approx 1 cup; feel free to double if you want more)
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, stems removed
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) crushed or minced garlic (you can also use whole cloves since it will be blended up)
- 1/4 cup of one of the following: pine nuts, raw sunflower seeds/kernels (this is what I use), raw almonds, raw almonds, or raw cashews
- 1 pound shrimp, tail-on or off raw, thawed and deveined
- 1 pound rotisserie chicken meat, shredded by hand (you can get it hot and whole and pre-packaged and cold at Costco)
- 10-20 ounces frozen peas
- Break the linguine in half and lay in the Instant Pot in a crisscross fashion (we have to do this to ensure it fits properly). Add the broth (or water) and just smooth it out so it’s mostly submerged. Top with the 4 pats of butter (if using).
- Secure the lid and move the valve to the sealing position. Hit Cancel followed by Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 6 minutes (see Jeff's Tips). Quick release when done and give the pot a good stir and the noodles should quickly separate and be cooked perfectly.
- While the pasta's cooking, make the pesto sauce by adding all the pesto ingredients to a food processor and pulse until puréed.
- If using any of the optional finishes, add any or all to the cooked pasta before adding the pesto. Hit the Cancel button followed by the Sauté button and Adjust to the More or High setting. If using raw shrimp, stir until the shrimp curl and become opaque (about 2 minutes) and if using cold rotisserie chicken or frozen peas, do the same. Warm rotisserie chicken
- Add the pesto and toss in with the pasta (NOTE: if you didn't do Step 4 and are just using the pesto and the pasta there's no need to hit the Sauté button when you stir it in as there will be nothing to cool the pasta down). Serve and enjoy!
Apart from angel hair/capellini (which I find too delicate for pressure cooking), you can use any long-form pasta for this. Just make sure you break it in half so it fits in the pot in a crisscross fashion and cooks properly. If using spaghetti or fettuccine, up the cook time to 8 minutes. If using bucatini/perciatelli, up the cook time to 12 minutes. If you wish to use a short-form pasta such as penne, bowties, ziti, medium shells, rotini or gemelli, also go for 6 minutes.
If you wish to save even more time, use a jarred pesto (Costco definitely has the best and the best value). Whichever you choose, I'd suggest you get one that's in the refrigerated section of your market (usually by the deli cheeses) and use about 1-2 cups of it.