Cavatappi with Fresh Pesto, Tomatoes and Onions

A simple bowl of pasta tossed with freshly made pesto and some sautéed sweet onions and grape tomatoes makes a such a satisfying, flavor-filled meal, you really won't miss the meat. The addition of the tomatoes and onions is not traditional, but we like the contrasting colors and flavors. If we can find it, we like to use cavatappi with pesto. It's twisty shape and little ridges hold on to the sauce so well. If you can't find that cut, penne is a great alternative.

Cavatappi with Fresh Pesto, Tomatoes and Onions
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  • Ingredients:
  • 10 ounces cavatappi (or other ridged pasta, like penne)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced (we used Vidalia)
  • 1 pint grape (or cherry) tomatoes, halved
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the pesto:
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the basil and garlic are finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in 1/4 cup of the olive oil and process until the mixture is a smooth puree. If you feel the mixture is too thick, add just a little extra olive oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onions and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until they are soft and golden brown. Add the halved tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes, until the tomatoes are hot and just slightly wrinkled.

While the onions are cooking, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, return to the pan and toss to coat thoroughly with the pesto. Add in the onion-tomato mixture, toss again. Serve immediately. Top with additional grated cheese if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe Notes:
To complete your meal, serve alongside a green salad tossed with an Italian-style vinaigrette and a glass of sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.

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comments & replies


I love this kind of meal. Sometimes I make homemade croutons from whole-grain or sprouted-grain bread and add them to the pasta dish for a little extra crunch.

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