Pancetta Pesto Pasta is a quick-prep dish that can be served warm or cold. A blend of pantry staples and fresh ingredients ensures this dish will be a weeknight dinner warrior!
This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been fully updated including ingredient notes, step-by-step instructions, and new photos.
You will be excited about preparing dinner when this pancetta pesto pasta is on the menu.
- Ready in less than 30 minutes. Save time by making the pesto ahead of time.
- So much flavor and texture with briny olives, tangy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, salty pancetta, buttery pine nuts, and herby pesto. Your family will be clamoring for more!
- Extremely versatile - Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Add a protein like chicken or shrimp for heartier appetites.
- Lots of serving options - Serve warm as a main dish with a side salad, as a light lunch, or as a side dish with burgers or chicken. Bring to a potluck or barbecue.
- Pasta - Any short-cut pasta works here. Try farfalle, cavatappi, rotini, orecchiette, or fusilli. I like using pasta with nooks and crannies to capture all of the pesto.
- Pesto - I love the freshness of homemade pesto, but jarred pesto can also be used for added convenience. This pasta will taste incredible either way.
- Pancetta - I use Boar's Head. It comes diced which saves a step. Bacon works well also.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - I prefer oil-packed for their texture and flavor. Mezzetta sun-dried tomatoes are my go-to.
- Pine nuts have a wonderful buttery flavor and add great texture to this pasta. Walnuts make a great substitute and are also less expensive than pine nuts.
See the recipe card for complete instructions and ingredient amounts.
TIP: If using homemade pesto, I like to make it the day before to save time when I'm trying to get dinner on the table quickly.
- Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick skillet over low heat. Watch them carefully because they can go from toasted to burnt quickly. This will take 5-7 minutes.
- Cook the pancetta until brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse.
- Add the pasta back to the warm pan off of the heat. Toss the warm pasta with pesto, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. We don't want to cook the pesto since heating it will compromise its fresh flavor and color.
- Stir in the mozzarella, pancetta, and pine nuts and transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with fresh basil.
I love the versatility of pancetta and pesto pasta - it's delicious served warm, cold, or at room temperature. If serving cold, toss with an extra spoonful of pesto or a drizzle of olive oil to loosen if necessary.
Bring the pasta to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for 2-3 days. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.
Pesto pasta is delicious both warm and cold. The pesto should be added to warm pasta, not hot pasta. Cooking the pesto will change its flavor and color. Pesto pasta is also delicious cold.
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Pancetta Pesto Pasta with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 12 ounces farfalle pasta (or other short-cut pasta)
- ½ cup pepita basil pesto
- 1 cup Kalamata olives (drained)
- ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained and sliced)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
- fresh basil (for garnish)
- Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick skillet over low heat until lightly browned. This will take 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the pancetta to the same skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. Drain but do no rinse.
- Add the pasta back to the pan off of the heat. Add the pesto, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss to combine.
- Add the mozzarella, pine nuts, and pancetta. Toss together. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh basil.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
- To save prep time, make the pesto 1-2 days ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Jarred pesto can also be used if short on time.
- Always cook the pasta in well-salted water to flavor the pasta itself. I use 2 teaspoons of salt for 12 ounces of pasta.
- Store leftovers for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.