This pesto cavatappi pasta recipe is a delicious meal made with just 5 ingredients! This 15 minute recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight meal!

pesto cavatappi
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When it comes to pasta, cavatappi noodles are one of my favorite shapes. I know, I know, it might sound silly to have a favorite pasta shape, but I think this noodle lends itself to so many tasty sauces! Its short shape makes it easy to toss with your favorite ingredients, and the ridges on the noodles help grip the sauce. While you could use any noodle in this recipe, I highly recommend getting your hands on these spiral noodles!

This recipe requires using some of the starchy pasta water to create a luxurious sauce. Unfortunately, that means gluten-free noodles and chickpea noodles don’t work quite as well in this recipe. You can still use them in a pinch, but the sauce will be a bit thinner and won’t cling to the pasta quite as well.

The Best Sauce for Cavatappi Noodles

As I mentioned, these noodles work great with a variety of sauces but for this recipe, I paired them with pesto. I love the flavor of this dish, and the pesto clings nicely to the ridges in the noodles! My favorite store-bought pesto is Buitoni’s Pesto, which has a great flavor that tastes homemade. America’s Test Kitchen recommended it and I’m glad I tried it! If you need a vegan option, Trader Joe’s Kale and Pine Nut Pesto is also good. And of course, you can make your own if you like. If you want a different twist on pesto, try my pesto calabrese recipe! If you’re looking for a high protein sauce, try my cottage cheese pasta sauce!

Noodles & Company Copycat

This recipe was inspired by the Noodles & Company pesto cavatappi pasta. Of course, it’s not the exact recipe but I think it’s pretty close! If you love that takeout dish, you’ll definitely like this recipe. The best part is, you can customize this exactly the way you like it! If you want to add protein, you can. Or if you want to keep it simple, it’s pretty filling as is! If you love Noodles & Company, be sure to try my Penne Rosa recipe!

Is Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?

Sometimes I’ll get asked if Parmesan cheese is vegetarian, and technically, it’s not. Traditionally, Parmesan cheese (and many kinds of cheese) are made with animal rennet, which comes from the stomach lining of a calf. It’s not vegetarian in the way that many marshmallows are not technically vegetarian, as they typically contain gelatin. I don’t personally eliminate Parmesan cheese from my diet, but if you’re a strict vegetarian, there are options that use vegetable rennet instead. BelGioioso makes vegetarian-friendly Parmesan cheese.

How to Make Pesto Cavatappi Pasta