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Pesto Tortellini is an easy dinner recipe that’s ready in just 15 minutes! Tortellini pasta with an easy homemade pesto sauce, parmesan cheese, and fresh spinach.
For more another pesto recipe be sure and try this Pesto Pasta Salad.
Pesto Tortellini Recipe (With Homemade Pesto Sauce)
This pesto tortellini recipe is a delicious, quick 15 minute dinner recipe that is the perfect meatless dinner or served as a side dish to any grilled meat.
Store-bought tortellini pasta gets covered in a pesto sauce made from olive oil, pine nuts, fresh basil, spinach, and fresh lemon juice to round out the flavors. Even with making the pesto from scratch, it’s still ready to eat in just 15 minutes.
Why You’ll Love It
- Learn How to Make Pesto! : If you’ve ever wondered about how to make pesto, then start with this recipe! Making a homemade pesto sauce is actually easier than you think – throw some ingredients into a food processor and that’s it.
- Best Side Dish : Grilling during the summer is a popular dinner choice. This pesto tortellini makes the perfect, hearty side dish to any grilled chicken, steak, or pork. It’s even great served as a side dish at a potluck or picnic.
- Fresh & Bright Flavor : Making pesto adds so much bright and wow flavor to this dish. You’ll love how flavorful it is. The combination of fresh spinach + basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil and pine nuts is a flavor combo that just can’t be beat.
- Tortellini – You need 20 ounces of fresh, refrigerated tortellini for this recipe. Look in the deli section for the refrigerated packaged tortellini. Costco and Sam’s Club also sell refrigerated tortellini pasta.
- Baby Spinach
- Parmesan Cheese – This is for garnishing before serving.
- Basil Pesto Recipe
- Fresh Basil Leaves – You will find these in the produce area, in the cold fridge area, near the other herbs.
- Baby Spinach
- Pine Nuts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Make sure you use extra virgin olive oil because it has a milder flavor. I actually prefer using the ‘mild tasting’ extra virgin olive oil when I make pesto.
- Parmesan Cheese – You can shred this from a wedge or buy the bagged shredded parmesan cheese, or the cheese that comes in a container. I don’t recommend using the grated parmesan cheese, the shelf-stable version, that comes in the can.
- Minced Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves, chopped garlic from a jar, or garlic paste.
- Fresh Lemon Juice – About 1/2 of a lemon.
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Pesto Tortellini
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the tortellini according to package directions. Tortellini does not cook for very long, so I suggest preparing the pesto while the water is coming to a boil.
- In a food processor, add the fresh basil, baby spinach, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Process on medium-high speed until blended.
- Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set it to the side. Drain the tortellini in a colander but do not rinse it off.
- Transfer the tortellini to a bowl and immediately stir in the spinach and reserved pasta water. Gently stir until the spinach is wilted.
- Add the basil pesto and stir to combine.
- Garnish with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
FAQ’s + Expert Tips
- How To Store Leftovers : This pesto tortellini can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Eat it cold or warmed.
- Tortellini Tip : I think this tastes best with the refrigerated tortellini but frozen tortellini can also be used. Feel free to use a chicken tortellini, spinach tortellini, or other variety of tortellini to change up the flavor of this pesto pasta dish.
- What Parmesan Cheese Is Best To Use : I recommend using a wedge of parmesan cheese that you shred yourself with a cheese grater. The next best option is to get a container of fresh, shredded parmesan cheese. This is not the bagged cheese (that stuff has a coating on it to prevent clumping) but rather fresh shaved parmesan cheese that comes in a plastic container or plastic bag. Found by the other refrigerated cheeses. I don’t recommend using the shelf-stable can of grated parmesan cheese in this recipe (the one with the green lid that you find in the pasta aisle at the store).
Fresh basil leaves are essential when making pesto sauce! I love buying a fresh basil plant for this recipe as it is usually more cost effective than buying several packages of fresh basil leaves at the store. Plus, the basil will stay fresher for longer and you’ll probably have some extras.
Kitchen Supplies I Recommend
- Food Processor – To make pesto you really do need a good food processor. Just throw everything in and process until smooth. A high-powered blender will also work if that’s what you have. I recommend this Ninja Food Processor all the time!
- Citrus Juicer – This makes it so easy to squeeze every last bit of lemon juice. I own this OXO Citrus Juicer and always recommend it.
- Large Pasta Pot w/ Strainer – I always suggest that everyone has a Large Pasta Pot in the kitchen. No need for a colander, just use the lid that doubles as a strainer.
Pesto Tortellini (Homemade Pesto Sauce)
Basil Spinach Pesto
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (from a wedge)
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 package (20 oz) refrigerated tortellini
- 2 cups baby spinach
- grated parmesan cheese (for garnish)
Make The Basil Spinach Pesto
- Into a food processor add the basil, baby spinach, extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until combined well. Set off to the side while you prepare the tortellini.1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the tortellini according to the package directions. * I add about 1 teaspoon kosher salt into the boiling water.1 package (20 oz) refrigerated tortellini
- When the pasta is done, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Drain the tortellini into a colander.
- Add the tortellini back into the pot (or a serving bowl). Add the 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and the baby spinach into the tortellini. Stir until the spinach has wilted.2 cups baby spinach
- Add the basil pesto and stir gently to combine everything together.
- Garnish with additional freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!