This baked Pasta in Jalapeno Pesto recipe is creamy, spicy, and delicious all in one! Learn how to make this fast and easy casserole that everyone will love! Less than 30 minutes prep!
I’m all for fusion food, whether it’s my Indo-Italian keema pizza or Indo-Chinese one pan veg noodles and manchurian stir fry. Admit it, it's fun! When my friend and I met for lunch at her place, she made us some Pasta in jalapeno pesto. And I remember thinking ‘Who puts a Mexican ingredient in a staunchly traditional Italian recipe??’ But as soon as lunch was over, I knew I had to share this recipe with y’all!
A traditional Pesto Sauce + Some Fusion
A traditional pesto sauce is made by grinding basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese in a mortar and pestle. We’re going to modify it 3 ways - by adding jalapenos, using cashews instead of pine nuts, and by using a blender instead of mortar and pestle.
Why Add Jalapenos?
Of all my Jalapeno recipes, this one definitely stands out! I usually use pepper or chilli flakes for a spicy pasta, but adding Jalapenos to the pesto sauce definitely takes the flavour up a notch. For this pasta in jalapeno sauce, I use 3-4 jalapenos slit lengthwise. I also de-seed it, but if you like the heat, keep the seeds. It's like jalapeno poppers, but in pasta! I LOVE it!
Best Nuts to Use
Pine nuts obviously work the best. But A) they are expensive and B) I don’t always have them. And I think cashews are the next best option. They break down really easily, and become so creamy when blended! You can also use blanched almonds instead. Each nut gives its own flavour profile to a pesto sauce, so feel free to experiment and see what you like best!
Don’t Compromise on your Cheese!
I normally ignore any cheese that isn’t mozzarella because everything else is SO EXPENSIVE. But, I always make an exception for pesto, because it NEEDS parmigiano reggiano and nothing lesser. Another great option is pecorino cheese. I blend it with the sauce and sprinkle some on top before baking the dish in the oven. These cheeses add so much nuttiness and saltiness to the dish that goold old mozzarella never could.
Here are some tips to make your jalapeno pesto sauce creamy and delicious:
- Add some milk - After the sauce has been put into the pot, add some milk to bind the sauce together and give it that added creaminess
- Use the pasta water - Looks can be deceptive! Never throw away this salty starchy looking pasta water because it is gold - it acts as a natural emulsifier, adds saltiness, and helps give pasta that glorious saucy finish
Once the pasta is cooked, I like to bake it topped with generous amounts of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. The cheese melts and oozes down into the pasta, and the breadcrumbs give a nice crunch to the dish. This step is kinda optional if you can’t wait the extra few minutes. But totally recommended!
- I have used farfelle in my pesto pasta dish because they’re so pretty! But you can use any short pasta shape you want.
- Add other veggies like zucchinis, onions, mushrooms, and even corn!
- You could also add proteins like chicken or bits of bacon
Try out this wacky pasta in jalapeno sauce recipe and I promise you, you’ll be making it again soon!
More Pasta Recipes For You:
- One Pot Vegetable Pasta – only 20 minutes to dinner!
- White Sauce Pasta with Vegetables
- All-In Sunday Veggie Pasta
- 12 Pasta Recipes for Every Mood
Watch Baked Pasta in Jalapeno Pesto Recipe Video
Spicy Baked Pasta in Jalapeno Pesto
For the Pesto
- 5 Jalapenos deseeded
- ½ cup Basil Leaves tightly packed
- ¼ cup Cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- ¼ cup Parmesan grated
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Olive Oil extra virgin
For the Pasta
- 250 grams Pasta Farfalle/ Penne
- 2 tablespoons Salt
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic thinly sliced
- ½ cup Bell Peppers cubed (red and yellow)
- 5-6 Cherry Tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup Milk
- ½ cup Bread Crumbs toasted
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- For the jalapeno pesto, place all the ingredients, except olive oil in the food processor. Slowly add olive oil as you blend and process till smooth
- To cook the pasta, bring water to boil in a large pot with 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook till al dente according to package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid and drain. Wash the pasta with cold water and set aside. This prevents the pasta from becoming sticky.
- In another pan, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil, add garlic and saute over medium heat till golden.
- Add the bell peppers and cook for a minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cook stirring for another minute. Add the jalapeno pesto and the reserved pasta cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
- Add the cooked pasta and milk and toss together over medium heat till nicely coated with the pesto sauce. Toss in half the breadcrumbs and mix.
- Pour into a baking dish. Mix the remaining toasted bread crumbs and parmesan together and scatter evenly on top of the pasta. Broil (turn only the top element on) for 3-4 minutes in a preheated oven.
- Pasta: Any short pasta shape will do in this recipe. Swap the farfalle with shells, penne, fusilli etc
- Jalapeño: If you like more heat in your pasta, there is no need to deseed the jalapeño
- Broiling: Broiling the pasta is an optional step. It basically helps make the breadcrumb and parmesan topping crunchy. You can skip it if you'd like and serve the pasta without baking.