This casarecce pasta is stuffed full of onions, ham, and walnuts, all coated in a creamy pesto sauce. It’s an easy and flavorful dish that everyone will love!
What is casarecce pasta?
Casarecce pasta is a short pasta noodle, originally from Sicily. The noodles have edges that are rolled up on the long edges, which makes them great for holding sauce in the crevices. They are also called casareccia in different parts of Italy.
It’s a great pasta shape to use with pesto, because the sauce coats every bit of the pasta noodles, and gets into the cracks of the pasta, making it super delicious!
When we were living in Palermo, Italy, our friend Zack came to our home to teach us how to make casarecce pasta with basil pesto. He told us that casarecce pasta was the best to pair with a basil pesto sauce.
- Casarecce Pasta
- Basil Pesto: We used a store bought pesto, which in Italy was called ‘pesto senza glutine’ or pesto without gluten. But we have a homemade pesto recipe that I recommend using, if you want to go the extra step.
- Heavy Cream: We originally used panna di cucina, which you might be able to find at an Italian market, but heavy cream will work!
- Diced Ham: You can also use chopped bacon, or pork belly.
- Yellow Onion
- Olive Oil
- Chili Powder
- Chopped Walnuts
How to make Casarecce Pasta with Basil Pesto?
- Add your olive oil to a large sauce pan to heat up. Then add in your diced onions and let them cook for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and translucent. Add in the cubed ham pieces and cook it for a few minutes, until nice and crispy.
- Stir in 2 cups of the pesto. Then slowly pour in some of the heavy cream, while you’re stirring it into the sauce.
- Turn the heat down to low to simmer the sauce, while you cook the pasta.
- Boil a large pot of water, and add the pasta and a pinch of salt to the pot to cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, and add it back to the pot.
- Add the pasta sauce to the pasta, and stir it to coat. Add additional pesto, or heavy cream if desired for a saucier pasta. Sprinkle in chili powder, and chopped walnuts if desired.
- Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Tips and Tricks:
- If you can’t find casarecce pasta, you can use other short pastas. Some good options would be fusilli or cavatappi, but your favorite type of pasta should work.
- I haven’t tried, but you should be able to substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta too.
- Don’t let the pasta noodles cool before tossing them with the pesto. The pesto will stick to the pasta much better when it is till warm.
- Instead of diced ham, try adding cooked Italian sausage, or bacon to the pasta.
- Garnish the pasta with some fresh basil or fresh shredded parmesan cheese.
How to store leftovers?
Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. The pasta will be best reheated on the stove top to help prevent it from drying out. Add in a couple tablespoons of extra water, pesto, or heavy cream as you warm it up in the pot to keep the pasta from being dry and hard.
If you want to reheat it in the microwave, place a single serving of the pasta on a microwave safe dish, and top the pasta with extra pesto, or a small drizzle of water.
This casarecce pesto pasta is such a delicious and easy pasta dish that the whole family will love!
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Casarecce Pasta with Basil Pesto
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 8 oz ham (cubed)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil pesto (divided)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 16 oz casarecce pasta
- 1 TBS salt
- 1 tsp chili powder (optional, to taste)
- ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
- fresh shredded parmesan (to garnish)
- Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat, add in the olive oil and heat it up.
- Add in the diced onions and heat them up for a few minutes, or until they are translucent.
- Add the cubed ham, and cook it until the pieces are crispy.
- Stir in 1 cup of the basil pesto.
- Slowly pour in 1/3 cup of the heavy cream, while you're stirring it into the sauce.
- Lower the temperature and let the sauce simmer.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Add in the pasta noodles, and 1 TBS of salt, and cook the pasta noodles according to the package directions.
- Drain the water from the pot, and add the pasta back to the pot.
- Pour the pesto sauce into the noodles, and stir it all together.
- Add up to 1/2 more cup of pesto, and another 3 TBS of heavy cream, if needed to coat the pasta liberally in the sauce.
- Sprinkle in chili powder, to taste, if desired.
- Stir in ¼ cup chopped walnuts, if desired.
- Serve with fresh grated Parmesan, if desired.
This pesto casarecce pasta was first posted on January 23, 2017. The photos and text were updated for clarity on May 25, 2022.
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