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Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Mozzarella Pearls

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Quick, simple and family-approved — this pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella pearls is delicious hot or cold.

Quick, simple, and family-approved, this pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella pearls makes a fabulous weeknight supper, and it also doubles as a vibrant pasta salad for a cookout. Pair it with a simple arugula salad and warm crusty bread. Or for a more substantial meal, grill some Italian sausages to serve alongside. The pesto yields enough for two dinners, and it freezes nicely, too.

What you’ll need to make pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

To begin, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the sea.) Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. You’ll need to reserve some of the cooking water for the sauce. It’s easy to forget to do this, so I always set a liquid measuring cup out as a visual reminder.

cooking the pasta

Meanwhile, make the pesto. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the sun-dried tomatoes with their oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil.

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture is finely puréed. Divide the mixture in half. Set aside.

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water (you’ll need it for the sauce), then drain the pasta.

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

Add the pasta back to the pan. Add half of the pesto and stir to combine, adding the reserved pasta water little by little, until the pasta is well-coated and moistened. I usually use about 3/4 cup of the pasta water, but you may need more or less. (Refrigerate or freeze the remaining pesto for another meal.)

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and red pepper flakes, if necessary. Right before serving, toss in 2 tablespoons chopped basil and the mozzarella pearls (it’s important to do this right before serving so the cheese doesn’t melt from the heat of the pan).

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

Transfer to a serving dish or pasta bowls and serve with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto

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Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Mozzarella Pearls

Quick, simple and family-approved — this pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella pearls is delicious hot or cold.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz pasta, such as fusilli, penne or farfalle
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8 oz) tub fresh mozzarella pearls, drained (alternatively, use a fresh mozzarella ball and cut into chunks)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the sea.) Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the sun-dried tomatoes with their oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture is finely puréed. Divide the mixture in half. Set aside.
  3. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water (you'll need it for the sauce), then drain the pasta. Add the pasta back to the pan. Add half of the pesto and stir to combine, adding the reserved pasta water little by little, until the pasta is well-coated and moistened. I usually use about ¾ cup of pasta water. (Refrigerate or freeze the remaining pesto for another meal.) Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and red pepper flakes, if necessary. Right before serving, toss in 2 tablespoons chopped basil and the mozzarella pearls (it's important to do this right before serving so the cheese doesn't melt from the heat of the pan). Transfer to a serving dish or pasta bowls and serve with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  4. Note: If you'd like to serve this pasta dish at room temperature, wait until the pasta is cool to add the mozzarella pearls.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 697
  • Fat: 28 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 83 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Sodium: 533 mg
  • Cholesterol: 50 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Jenn, I made this exactly as written this summer and we all loved it. Is it possible to use some of my frozen pesto from the summer mixed with the sun dried tomatoes. My basil was so good then, but thought maybe I could start with pesto since i have no basil. Can you recommend how much pesto to use? Thanks so much. Love all your recipes. My family doesn’t even ask where the recipe came from anymore – they know it’s from you.

    • — Sandra on December 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandra, Thanks for the kind words about the recipes — so glad you’re family likes them! I think it would work to use your frozen pesto and I’d guesstimate you’d need about 1/2 cup. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious and easy – every recipe I make of yours makes me giddy with delight in thinking I can actually cook 🙂

    • — Jennifer Dubler on December 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • ?

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • One of my favorites! Very very good!

    • — Liz on November 17, 2022
    • Reply

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