Your perfect weeknight summer dinner awaits: trenette al pesto. The silky pasta tossed in homemade hazelnut pesto and hearty vegetables makes for a satisfying summer dinner al fresco.
Making its American debut in Disney and Pixar's film Luca, Trenette al pesto has become a favorite of adults and children alike. Plus, who doesn't love a one-pot pasta recipe? The sophisticated Luca pasta recipe tastes like summer, and it's super simple to make.
Trenette al Pesto FAQs
What type of pasta is trenette?
Trenette is a long, flat, thin pasta, similar to linguine, but thinner.
What can I substitute trenette with?
In this recipe, I substituted trenette pasta with linguine. I went to several stores and couldn't find the trenette shape. Because trenette is a long, flat, thin pasta, both linguine and fettuccine work just fine!
Why is it important to salt pasta water?
As the pasta cooks, it absorbs some (not all) of the salt in the boiling water, adding flavor to the pasta.
How do you know when pasta is done?
Pasta should be cooked until it is al dente, which means "to the tooth". It should be firm, but not hard or chalky. I typically cook the pasta for one minute less than the minimum cooking time the package recommends and then taste it to see if it's ready.
Can I use store-bought pesto for my trenette al pesto?
I'm really not a fan of store-bought pesto from the big name brands--there's just something about it that tastes artificial to me. To me, it's worth it to either grow my own basil or buy a bulk package of basil leaves from the store and make it myself.
However, if you're buying from an Italian grocery store, farmer's market, or a store that makes their pesto in-house, give it a shot!
What cheese makes a good Grana Padano substitute?
Parmigiano Reggiano is a good Grana Padano substitute. Grana Padano has a lighter, buttery flavor, while Parmigiano Reggiano is aged longer, allowing it to develop a nuttier flavor.
What is the pasta in the film Luca called?
Trenette al pesto, made popular by Disney/Pixar's movie Luca, combines pasta, pesto, potatoes, & green beans for a satisfying summer dinner.
The Dietitian's Nutrient Notes
Adding More Fiber
The addition of potatoes and asparagus contribute to increased fiber content in this recipe, and it never hurts to add more!
Feel free to double the amount of green beans to add more low-calorie fiber, or swap in whole grain pasta to increase the fiber even more. Your blood sugar will thank you!
Pesto Pasta Calories
At a glance, it can be easy to be turned off by the calories in pesto, which packs around 290 calories per ¼ cup. Yes, pesto is a calorie dense food because it's base is olive oil, and typically includes pine nuts and a hard aged cheese.
However, when evaluating calories, it's important to think about the source of those calories. In this case, the bulk of the calories come from olive oil and nuts, both of which contain heart-healthy fats.
Of course, we still want to enjoy pesto in moderation, but you can take pride in knowing you're choosing a heart-healthy sauce.
Trenette al Pesto Substitutions & Additions
- Potatoes: In traditional Trenette al pesto, white potatoes are used. However, I liked to use red or purple potatoes. It adds more color and makes the dish look more elevated when you serve it.
- Swapping in other vegetables: Asparagus is a great substitute for the green beans in this recipe. I'm also interested to see how artichokes would be as well--they're delicious with pesto.
- Whole wheat pasta: Using whole wheat or whole grain pasta is a great way to add extra fiber without sacrificing taste, and it helps keep you feeling full for longer.
Trenette al Pesto Bonus Tips
- My #1 tip for this recipe: Wash your basil REALLY well, even if it's store-bought, especially if it's from your garden. The first time I made this recipe, I didn't wash my basil well and it made the pesto so gritty, it was inedible.
- The key to getting this recipe right is sticking to the 3 different cooking times for the potatoes, pasta, and green beans. We don't want anything overcooked, so stick to the timeline. My advice: reset the timer for every interval because they come fast!
- Make straining pasta a breeze by using a pot lid that has a strainer built into the lid. It's a game changer because it means fewer dishes to do!
If you're a pasta al pesto lover, consider trenette al pesto for your next dinner party or girl's night. It's a simple, gorgeous, authentic pasta dish that everyone will love, which makes you look good!
All my love & a little butter,
Olivia Sokolowska, MBA, RD
Wondering what else you should make alongside your Luca pasta recipe?
Looking for more decadent pasta recipes? Check out these three favorites!
Making its American debut in Disney and Pixar's film Luca, Trenette al pesto has become a favorite of adults and children alike. The silky pasta tossed in homemade hazelnut pesto and hearty vegetables makes for a satisfying summer dinner al fresco.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed thoroughly
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 oz Grana Padano cheese
- 10 oz small baby gold potatoes (about 10 bite-sized potatoes)
- 2 cups green beans
- 8 oz trenette pasta (or linguine)
- ¼ cup pasta water (reserved during the cooking process)
- ¼ cup cooking sherry
- ¾ cup pesto (from above recipe)
Prep the Pesto
1. Rinse all the fresh basil leaves REALLY well*, pat dry with a paper towel, and remove any large stems.
2. Peel the garlic cloves and cut off the root end.
3. In the bowl of the food processor, add the basil, garlic, toasted hazelnuts, olive oil, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and Grana Padano.
4. Blend in the food processor for 1-2 minutes, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
*Note: This pesto recipe makes 1 ¼ cups of pesto, but we only use ¾ cup of pesto in the trenette al pesto recipe.
Make the Pasta
5. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
6. While waiting for the water to boil, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Cut the ends off the green beans and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch long.
7. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes to the pot and cook for 8 minutes.
8. Once the potatoes have cooked for 8 minutes, add the pasta to the pot with the potatoes and cook for an additional 7 minutes.
9. Finally, add the green beans to the pasta + potatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
10. Before straining the pasta + vegetables, reserve ¼ cup of pasta water. Strain the pasta and return the pot to the stove with the pasta + vegetables in the pot.
11. Pour the reserved pasta water, cooking sherry, and pesto over the pasta + vegetables and toss until the pasta is evenly coated. Add extra pesto if desired & top with grated Grana Padano.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 ¾ cups per serving
*Any dirt or sand on the basil leaves will completely ruin the texture of the pesto.
Amount Per Serving Calories 518Total Fat 33gSaturated Fat 4gSodium 105mgCarbohydrates 61gFiber 6.2gSugar 3gProtein 10g
Please note that nutrition information is a computer-generated estimate and should not be interpreted as a registered dietitian's advice. Nutrition facts calculations vary based on brands, products, and serving sizes.