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How To Reheat Pesto Pasta – Step By Step

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Pesto offers one of the easiest ways to whip up a quick, yet delicious pasta dish that almost everyone will enjoy. You can choose to make your pesto fresh at home, or you might like the convenience of store-bought pesto, either way, at times you could find you have some leftover pesto pasta leftover to enjoy the next day.

So what is the best way to reheat pesto pasta? There are three ways to reheat pesto pasta, either in the microwave, the oven or on the stovetop. There are pros and cons to using both the stove and microwave, but if done right you should be left with some delicious reheated pesto pasta to enjoy.

How To Reheat Pesto Pasta

There is a bit of a debate whether it is better to heat pasta in the microwave, in the oven, or on the stove for the best results, and it becomes especially tricky when it comes to pesto pasta, as the pesto is not supposed to be cooked, just warmed up. If overheated, the pesto could lose its taste, and that fresh herby flavor could be destroyed.

The key to reheating pesto pasta is to ensure that you do not overcook the pasta, or expose it to high heat for too long. Keeping this in mind, here is how you can heat pesto pasta on the stove and in the microwave, and the pros and cons of both.

Reheating Pesto Pasta In The Stove

Using the stove to warm up pesto pasta gives you soft noodles and a warm, but not hot sauce. The stove is a good way to warm up pesto pasta to keep the same taste as the pasta had the night before.

Here is how to reheat pesto pasta on the stove:

  1. Start by heating up a small amount of butter or olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium or low heat.
  2. Once the oil or butter is hot, add in the cold pasta.
  3. When the pasta begins to warm, add in a small amount of liquid, such as water, around ¼ of a cup.
  4. Stir the pasta occasionally while it heats, and once the liquid has fully absorbed and the pasta is warmed through, remove it from the heat and enjoy.

Pros of using a stove

Reheating pesto pasta on the stove is possibly the best way to ensure the pasta is kept moist and does not dry out. By being able to add in some extra liquid, the pasta does not dry out and become hard, it uses the excess water to warm up instead of using up the moisture in the sauce.

Using olive oil to heat up the pasta in the pan also allows the pesto to remain saucy, without becoming pasty.

Cons of using a stove

Reheating pasta on the stove does take slightly longer than warming it up in a microwave. You will need to ensure you continue to stir the pasta to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan, and make sure that there is enough liquid added to the pesto pasta to stop it drying out.

You need to be very careful to ensure that the pan does not become too hot, which could leave you with burned pasta. Heating up smaller portions on the stove can become tedious as well, and it is better suited for reheating larger portions of pasta.

Reheating Pesto Pasta In The Microwave

The microwave offers a quick and convenient way to warm up pesto pasta, or almost anything really. However, you need to be careful when warming pasta up in the microwave, if you leave it in for too long or let the food get too hot, the pasta could become dry and hard.

This is how to reheat pesto pasta in the microwave:

  1. Place the amount of pesto pasta to be reheated in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle some extra water or pesto on the top of the pasta to keep it separated and moist.
  2. Cover the dish with a damp paper towel and heat it at medium heat for up to 1 ½ minutes. 
  3. Check to see if the pasta has warmed through, if it has not, stir it around to distribute the heat and continue to microwave the pasta on medium power at 15 seconds until it has completely heated through.

Pros of using a microwave

Obviously, using a microwave is the quickest way to heat up pesto pasta, and gives you warm food in a couple of minutes. If you add enough moisture to the pesto pasta before warming it and cover it with a damp paper towel, you will be able to have soft, saucy pesto pasta in no time.

Cons of using a microwave

Reheating pesto pasta in the microwave is an easy way to land up with hard, dry noodles.

Without enough moisture, your pasta could end up sticking together to form a mush, with a dry sauce and an overall depressing dish. Be sure to not heat the pasta in the microwave for too long, or on too high heat either.

Reheating Pesto Pasta In The Oven

Reheating pesto pasta in the oven will take the longest amount of time, but it does offer up some good results. You are able to keep the fresh flavor of the pesto and ensure the pasta is heated evenly.

  1. Place the pesto pasta in an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle some leftover pesto or olive oil onto the pasta and stir.
  2. Cover the oven-safe dish with aluminum foil.
  3. Leave the pesto pasta to warm in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Remove the dish from the oven, remove the foil and give the pasta a stir.

Pros of using an oven

Being able to place aluminum foil over the pasta when heating in the oven stops any moisture from leaving the noodles or the pesto. This keeps the pasta moist and the noodles tender. Reheating the pasta in the oven also allows for a more evenly distributed heat.

Cons of using an oven

The oven takes a lot longer to warm up pesto pasta than what it would take using the stove or a microwave. You will need to make sure that the oven is at the right heat so the pesto does not become too hot and lose its flavor.

Reheating Fresh Pesto Vs Store Bought Pesto

Pesto made at home will have the freshest flavor possible, but because the pesto is made fresh, you cannot warm it up as much as you could store-bought pesto.

Basil, one of the main ingredients in traditional pesto, can develop an unpleasant taste if heated too much. This could cause the pesto to taste bitter.

If you want to make your own pesto at home, you’ll need a food processor. Check out our article of the best 3 food processors for pesto if you think you’d like to invest in one!

When reheating pesto pasta at home, be sure to not let it overheat or cook for too long, as the taste of the pesto will be completely ruined.

Store-bought pesto is a little more resilient. It contains preservatives that fresh pesto does not, which makes it more resistant to being destroyed by heat.

However, you still need to be careful not to overheat store-bought pesto, as it could still become bitter when exposed to too much heat. Gently warm the pesto pasta in the microwave or stove as detailed above.

Red Pesto Vs Green Pesto

Green pesto is the traditional type, made from olive oil, pine nuts and lots of basil.

Red pesto, or Pesto Alla Siciliana, is similar to normal green pesto, but contains much less basil, and has the addition of tomatoes and almonds, without any pine nuts.

Red pesto is easier to heat, as the ingredients do not turn bitter when heated.

When reheating red pesto pasta, you are able to heat it quicker and hotter than what you would with green pesto, however, do not cook it too much, as it might turn dry and lose all its moisture. 

Both green and red pesto are popular to be used in pasta dishes, either as a sauce alone or with added ingredients such as chicken or veggies.

Both are both served best when added to pasta at the end of cooking, only to be allowed to warm up a little bit. This helps retain its fresh and powerful taste.

Related Questions

Can pesto pasta be served cold?

Many people like to enjoy pesto pasta served cold as an appetizer. Pesto tastes freshest when cold, and you can really enjoy the simple yet delicious flavors it holds.

You could always skip heating up your leftover pesto pasta the next day and eat it cold from the fridge.

If it needs a little extra moisture, you could drizzle some olive oil over the pasta. This will not affect the taste at all, as one of the main ingredients in pesto is olive oil.

Can you eat pesto from the jar?

Pesto is completely safe to eat from the jar, or from a bowl if you have made a fresh batch at home. Made with olive oil, basil, garlic, and pine nuts, there is no reason why you could not enjoy pesto from the jar.

If the pesto has been sitting for some time, you might need to stir it before using it, as the olive oil can separate from the rest of the ingredients.

Can you cook pesto?

Pesto can be warmed up with pasta dishes or served on top of chicken breasts, but it should not be cooked.

Cooking pesto can cause it to have a bitter taste, so instead of cooking the pesto with the pasta or whatever else you are pairing it with, rather add it in at the end to absorb heat from the cooked food.

Reheating Pesto Pasta

There is a certain art to reheating pesto pasta. If it gets too hot, you can land up with a dry bowl with a bitter taste, but if done right, your pesto pasta can taste just as fresh as it did the first time you cooked it.

It is always a good idea to add in some extra liquid, such as olive oil or water before reheating the pesto pasta, to ensure both the pasta and the pesto do not dry up. Pesto pasta does not need to be very saucy, but eating a dry bowl of noodles is never great.

Choose to use either the stove, oven or the microwave to heat up your leftover pesto pasta and enjoy!

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