The Perfect Side Dishes to Accompany Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is a classic Italian dish that is easy to make and packed with flavor. It’s the perfect meal for any occasion; whether it’s an intimate family dinner or a fancy dinner party, pesto pasta will always be a crowd-pleaser. 

To make your meal even more delicious, why not include some impressive side dishes? But what to serve with pesto pasta? Here are some creative side dishes that will take your pesto pasta from delicious to extraordinary. 

Some of the sides I often serve with pesto pasta, and I am sure you will also enjoy these sides along with pesto pasta.

What is pesto pasta? What does pesto pasta taste like?

Pesto pasta is a classic Italian dish that combines pesto sauce with cooked pasta noodles. The combination of the two ingredients creates a delicious and flavorful meal that can be served as a main dish or side dish. 

Pesto is typically made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt. This mix of ingredients gives pesto its distinctive flavor, which has notes of nuttiness, sweetness, and sharpness from the cheese and garlic and herbal flavors from the basil. 

When combined with cooked al dente pasta noodles, it produces an incredibly delicious meal!

19 Sides to serve with pesto pasta

1. Garlic Bread 

Garlic bread is the classic side dish for any Italian meal, and it pairs perfectly with pesto pasta.

Garlic Bread

You can buy pre-made garlic bread at most grocery stores, or you can make your own by brushing slices of French bread with olive oil, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese. 

Pop them in the oven until golden brown, and you have delicious garlic bread that’ll complement your pesto pasta perfectly. 

2. Tomato Salad 

A light but flavorful tomato salad is the perfect accompaniment to pesto pasta. Slice up some fresh tomatoes and toss them in a bowl with diced red onion, chopped parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. 

Tomato Salad

The acidity of the balsamic vinegar will contrast nicely with the richness of the pesto sauce while still keeping things light. 

3. Grilled Vegetables 

Grilled vegetables are a simple yet tasty side dish that will add extra color and texture to your plate. Try grilling asparagus spears, zucchini slices, bell peppers—whatever you prefer! 

Drizzle some olive oil over the top before grilling for added flavor. Once finished grilling, you can add some freshly squeezed lemon juice for an extra kick of flavor. 

Explore More: World’s Best Pasta Side Dish for Pork Tenderloin

4. Roasted Potatoes 

Potatoes are always a hit! Roast some small potatoes in the oven until golden brown; mix them in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper before roasting for maximum flavor potential. 

Roasted Potatoes 

Your guests will love these crispy roasted potatoes as an accompaniment to their pesto pasta! 

5. Garlic Shrimp 

For something special, try adding some garlic shrimp on top of the pesto pasta! 

Start by sautéing shrimp in butter until they turn pink; then add minced garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant; then add white wine (optional) and let simmer until cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Serve atop your platter of delicious pesto pasta – it’s sure to impress even your toughest critics! 

Discover More: Perfect Side Dishes To Serve With BBQ Shrimp

6. Salad 

A salad is always a great accompaniment to any meal, but it’s especially good alongside pesto pasta because it provides an acidic contrast to the creamy sauce and helps keep things light and fresh. 

A simple salad with lettuce or greens tossed in olive oil and lemon juice is all you need; you could add some tomatoes or cucumbers for extra flavor if desired. 

7. Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is a classic Italian salad made with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese. The bright flavors provide a delicious contrast to the creamy pesto sauce.

8. Mediterranean Chicken Skewers

Marinated in olive oil and herbs, these chicken skewers bring a unique flavor profile to your plate. Their tangy taste balances the richness of the pesto perfectly.

9. Baked Ricotta & Spinach Croquettes

Baked Ricotta & Spinach Croquettes are tasty croquettes filled with ricotta cheese, spinach, and parmesan for an extra flavorful addition to your meal. 

Enjoy them hot with a squeeze of lemon juice for added zest.

10. French Onion Soup

Add some depth and complexity to your dinner by serving up this timeless soup as a side dish or appetizer before the main course arrives. (Recipe)

French Onion Soup

It pairs particularly well with pesto pasta due to its bold flavors and rich texture.

11. Tuna Niçoise Salad 

This hearty salad combines tuna, potatoes, olives, green beans, eggs and tomatoes for an explosion of flavors that pair wonderfully with pesto pasta dishes.

Learn More: Delicious Side Dishes for Tuna

12. Bruschetta


Fresh tomato bruschetta is always a crowd-pleaser! Its sweet tartness cuts through the creaminess of the pesto nicely while adding an exciting layer of texture to your plate presentation too!

13. Prosciutto Wrapped Figs

For an elegant appetizer full of flavor, wrap fresh figs in prosciutto slices, then bake until crisp. (Recipe)

Serve alongside freshly grated Parmesan cheese for a delightful combination that’s sure to wow guests!

14. Roasted Asparagus & Tomatoes

A simple yet flavorful mix of roasted asparagus spears tossed with cherry tomatoes is an excellent accompaniment to any pasta dish – especially those topped with creamy pesto sauces!

15. Mushrooms & Peppers Stir Fry

Sauteed mushrooms and bell peppers give this stir fry an earthy aroma that pairs nicely with all types of pasta – including ones smothered in pesto sauce!

16. Potato Gnocchi

Comfort food at its finest – homemade potato gnocchi is served best when tossed in buttery sage-infused browned butter sauce – it’s sure to be loved by everyone around the table!

17. Fried Zucchini Blossoms 

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Add some crunchy goodness to your plate by battering fresh zucchini blossoms and then frying them until golden brown – they go great alongside all kinds of pasta, including those topped with creamy pesto sauces!

18. Carbonara Sauce

Carbonara Sauce is excellent to serve with pesto pasta. 

It is a classic Italian dish that has just five ingredients – eggs, bacon, Parmesan cheese, pepperoncini peppers and parsley – making it one delectable way to top off your favorite kind of pasta (including those smothered in delicious pesto!).

Find Out: Best Pasta to Serve with Steak for a Memorable Meal

19. Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

A twist on traditional risotto – artichokes give this version extra flavor while sun-dried tomatoes add deeper notes which make it ideal as a side dish or even a main course when served alongside beautiful bowls full of pesto pasta!

What are the best flavors to go with pesto pasta?

Pesto pasta is a classic Italian dish that pairs well with many flavors. A popular way to serve it is with tomatoes, olives and capers for a Mediterranean twist. 

You can also add some garlic or fresh herbs like basil or oregano for an aromatic touch. 

For a more traditional approach, Parmesan cheese adds a nutty flavor, while pine nuts bring in a crunchy texture.

For something different, try adding artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes for a tangy punch of flavor. 

How do you jazz up pesto pasta?

One way to jazz up pesto pasta is to add grilled or roasted vegetables. Grilled asparagus pairs especially well with pesto and adds a nice crunchy texture. Roasted bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms are all great options for adding flavor and texture to your dish. 

If you want an extra kick of flavor, try adding some sun-dried tomatoes or olives to the mix! You can also top off your dish with some freshly grated parmesan cheese for added richness. 

For a meatier option, try stirring in some cooked chicken or shrimp for a hearty meal. 

Finally, don’t forget some fresh herbs like basil or oregano—they go a long way toward brightening up the flavors of your dish. Enjoy!

How do you display pesto pasta on a platter?

To display pesto pasta on a platter, arrange the pesto pasta in an attractive pattern. 

Spread the pesto sauce over the pasta and add extra ingredients such as cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese for color and flavor. 

Finally, garnish with fresh parsley or basil leaves for visual contrast. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can also prepare individual plates of pesto pasta. Place a portion of cooked pasta onto each plate and top it with a delicious dollop of pesto sauce. 

Add your favorite vegetables, like mushrooms or peppers, to give them a unique flair. Finish off by sprinkling some chopped nuts or herbs on top for added texture and flavor. Enjoy!

Wrap Up on What to serve with Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is one of those meals that can be enjoyed on its own or accompanied by other dishes––it all depends on what mood you’re in! 

Whether you want something light like a salad or something more indulgent like garlic bread, there are plenty of options out there that will pair perfectly with your pesto pasta dinner.

And don’t forget about adding some garlic shrimp for something special – it’s sure to be a hit at any dinner table!

So next time you’re making this classic Italian dish remember these five creative side dishes that’ll pair perfectly together for one delicious meal everyone will enjoy!


How much pesto pasta per person?

When it comes to how much pesto pasta to serve per person, it really depends on the specifics of your meal. 

For example, if you are serving a light lunch or dinner that is mostly composed of other dishes with minimal accompaniments, then about ½ cup of cooked pesto pasta will be enough for each person. 

However, if the meal consists mainly of pesto pasta as its main attraction, then 1-1½ cups per person are recommended. Depending on how big your appetite and crowd size is, you may need to adjust accordingly. 

If you’re looking for a good rule of thumb when making pesto pasta for a group, aim for about ¼ to ½ cup for each person depending on the side dishes served. 

What protein to serve with pesto pasta?

Pesto pasta is a delicious and flavorful meal that can be enjoyed on its own or served with protein for a complete dish. 

Popular options for adding protein include grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, sausage, and tofu.

For an extra boost of flavor, try topping the pesto pasta with Parmesan cheese or adding some vegetables such as spinach or mushrooms. 

With any of these toppings, you’ll have a satisfying and wholesome dinner that’s sure to please. Enjoy!

What goes with pasta for dinner?

There are many options for pairing pasta dishes with other components to make a complete dinner. Popular sides to accompany pasta include salads, steamed vegetables, and garlic bread. 

Additionally, proteins like chicken, shrimp, and sausage can be added to the dish to create a more filling meal.

For an Italian-style dinner, antipasti like olives, salami and marinated mushrooms complement pasta dishes nicely. 

Finally, no Italian dinner is complete without something sweet! Tiramisu or cannoli are classic desserts that pair well with any type of pasta.

What wine to pair with pesto pasta?

When it comes to choosing the perfect wine for your pesto pasta, look for a white or rose that has bright, crisp flavors and high acidity. 

It should be light-bodied and have aromas of citrus fruit and herbs. A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, an Italian Pinot Grigio, or an Albarino from Spain are all excellent choices. 

If you prefer reds, opt for something lighter like a Chianti or Sangiovese with bright berries and herbaceous notes. 

For sparkling wines, try a Prosecco or Cava with subtle floral flavors. As always, experiment until you find the right balance of flavor! Enjoy! 

What red wine to serve with pesto pasta?

For a classic Italian pairing with pesto pasta, look for a dry red wine such as Barbera, Chianti, or Dolcetto. These wines feature bright acidity and pair well with the richness of pesto sauce. 

The herbaceous notes of these wines will also accentuate the flavors in the dish. For something a little different, try Sicilian Nero d’Avola — its bold fruit flavors provide an interesting contrast to the herbal notes of pesto. 

If you are feeling adventurous, you can even try Sangiovese or Primitivo — both offer robust body and high tannins that will help cut through the strong flavor of pesto. 

Whichever red wine you choose, it should be served at room temperature to best bring out the flavors of both the wine and the dish. Enjoy!

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