Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi is the perfect copycat version made right in your own kitchen! This 30-minute dish is made with tender corkscrew pasta, a creamy white wine sauce, spinach, tomatoes, and refreshing basil pesto topped with shaved Asiago! An easy, flavorful pasta that will save you money by making the real deal at home. Weeknight dinners have never been so good!

overhead shot of pesto cavatappi topped with shaved cheese.

If you’ve ever eaten at Noodles & Company, you know that they serve scrumptious noodle dishes inspired by various cultures and cuisines and one of their most popular is the Pesto Cavatappi.

It’s my go-to dish, or penne rosa, and surprisingly enough, it is one of my picky daughter’s favorite dishes. But, I don’t want to go to Noodles every week. 

So, I created a copycat recipe that is just as good as the real thing… just like I did with spicy chicken chipotle pasta from the Cheesecake Factory and slow cooker chicken gnocchi soup from the Olive Garden!

This copycat Noodles & Company pesto cavatappi is even better than the original. And not just because I’ve left out the mushrooms.

Corkscrew noodles simmered in a cream and white wine sauce with added red pepper flakes for heat tossed with tomatoes and spinach and topped in a homemade pesto sauce (made without pine nuts) and served with shaved asiago cheese. Top it with some garlic butter baked chicken and it’s so good!

Why you’ll love this Pesto Cavatappi recipe

Not too heavy – While there is cream in the sauce, it’s not enough to call it creamy pasta. It’s nice and light and still hearty and satisfying. It’s got it all!

Budget-Friendly – Eating out is nice and all, but so is saving money! So many of the ingredients you may already have and substitutions can be made to fit any budget.

Quick Dinner – An entire pasta dish ready to serve in 30 minutes is great for busy weeknights. There is so much flavor in every bite, you’ll be surprised at how everyone cleans their plates!

Customizable – As you know, I’ve taken out the mushrooms, but you can certainly add them back in. There are ways to make this pasta dish your own, and while it may stray further from the real deal, it’ll still taste great!

Equipment you’ll need

Food Processor

Large Pot

Ingredients

Below is the simple ingredients list you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

  • Cavatappi Noodles – These are the corkscrew noodles that hold all of that delicious flavor in the nooks and crannies. Cook them to al dente so there’s still a bite to them. They’ll continue cooking in the pan.
  • Fresh Basil – A basil pesto needs basil! Remove the stems and be sure to wash and dry the basil leaves
  • Olive Oil – Pesto needs oil to bring the ingredients together into a sauce-like consistency.
  • Shaved Asiago – Adds a sharp, pungent flavor to the pesto sauce. It also gives it a bit of extra body.
  • Salt & Black Pepper – To taste.
  • Minced Garlic – Cooking the garlic in butter is a great way to bring out the aroma of the garlic as well as to infuse the butter with garlicky flavors.
  • Unsalted Butter – Used to sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes at the start of this incredible dish!
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – For heat. Use as much or as little as you like.
  • White Wine – Any white wine you have on hand is fine. Pino grigio, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc will work. Don’t use any expensive wine, just something you like to drink.
  • Chicken Stock – You can add more to replace the wine if you prefer not to use alcohol.
  • Roma Tomatoes – Chopped juicy, ripe tomatoes add a pop of beautiful red color and an acidic zesty element. Cherry tomatoes could also be used.
  • Fresh Spinach Remove the stems. You can also choose to use baby spinach instead.
  • Heavy Cream – A touch of cream adds richness to the white wine and chicken stock.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make pesto cavatappi.

How to make Pesto Cavatappi

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Step One: Cook noodles in a large pot of water to al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Set it aside.
  2. Step Two: While the pasta cooks, in a food processor, add the basil, olive oil, and half of the Asiago cheese and blend until smooth. Season to taste and set it aside.
  1. Step Three: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Sauté the minced garlic along with the butter and red pepper flakes. Toss in the cooked pasta and stir.
  1. Step Four: Pour in white wine and chicken stock. Deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon. When the noodles begin to sizzle, add the chopped tomatoes and spinach. Then, add the cream.
overhead shot of fresh spinach and tomatoes in a pot of noodles.
  1. Step Five: Toss and stir everything together and turn off the heat. Pour on the pesto and let it sit until the tomatoes are warm and the spinach wilts. Garnish with remaining shaved Asiago and serve!
pesto in a pot of cavatappi noodles.

What to serve with Pesto Pasta

We normally have this dish with a simple grilled chicken breast to go along with it, just like they serve at Noodles & Company. Sometimes we’ll do grilled shrimp instead which is just as good!

If you want to keep it meatless, a fresh green salad on the side is all you need.

If you need more Noodles recipes, try this copycat pasta fresca.

spoon lifting a scoop of pesto cavatappi from a pot.

Tips & Suggestions ⭐️

  • If you like a really saucy pasta, double the pesto portion of the recipe. 
  • Go ahead and add those mushrooms back in if you’d like!
  • Good quality shaved Asiago cheese straight from a wedge can make a world of difference in flavor, however I know it’s not cheap. You can also use grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, or if you can, Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Swap the fresh roma tomatoes for sundried tomatoes, or even grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
  • Toss in some black or kalamata olives.
  • You can add grilled chicken breast, grilled shrimp, or Italian sausage into the pasta itself as part of the dish.
  • If you don’t have spinach, but happen to have kale, us it instead.
  • This noodles & company pesto cavatappi copycat recipe is best served right away. Enjoy it while it’s fresh!

How to reheat and store Pesto Cavatappi

How to store leftovers

Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

How long will pesto cavatappi last in the fridge?

It’ll keep for up to 3 days. Trust me, it’ll be eaten by then!

The best way to reheat it

In the microwave! A quick and easy reheat takes about 2-3 minutes which makes it a perfect lunch to bring to work.

bowl of pesto cavatappi topped with shaved cheese, tomatoes, and spinach.

FAQs

Can I use store-bought pesto for this recipe?

Certainly. There are a variety of pesto sauces out there, so just look at the ingredients. Some use nuts, some don’t. Some are made without basil and some with. Just use what you like knowing that the flavors might not be the same as the original recipe.

What if I don’t have cavatappi noodles?

No problem! You can use your favorite noodles, but I recommend sticking with a small or medium pasta shape. I like ones with ridges or grooves that can hold onto the sauce like penne rigate, fusilli, elbow macaroni, and bowtie pasta. Zucchini noodles would work, too!

Is this a vegetarian pesto cavatappi?

It’s not because we are using chicken broth in the sauce. If you want to replace it with vegetable stock to make it vegetarian, go for it.

sliced grilled chicken breast on top of pesto cavatappi.

Homemade Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi

Need more pasta recipes? Try these:

Creamy Bowtie Pasta with Bacon

Pizza Pasta Bake

Slow Cooker Marry Me Chicken

Vodka Rigatoni with Eggplant Parmesan

Click here for my entire collection of pasta recipes.

overhead shot of pesto cavatappi topped with shaved cheese.
5 from 2 votes

Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi (copycat recipe)

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi is the perfect copycat version made right in your own kitchen! This 30-minute dish is made with tender corkscrew pasta, a creamy white wine sauce, spinach, tomatoes, and refreshing basil pesto topped with shaved Asiago! An easy, flavorful pasta that will save you money by making the real deal at home. Weeknight dinners have never been so good!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound cavatappi noodles cooked al dente

For the pesto

  • 1 bunch fresh basil de-stemmed
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 4 Tablespoons shaved Asiago cheese divided
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine or additional chicken stock
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach de-stemmed
  • 2 ounces heavy cream

Instructions

  • In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta to al dente, drain, rise with cold water, then toss with olive oil & set aside.
    1 pound cavatappi noodles

To make the pesto

  • In a food processor, add the fresh basil, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of Asiago cheese and blend until smooth. Taste, then season with salt & pepper & blend, as needed. Set aside.
    3 Tablespoons olive oil, 4 Tablespoons shaved Asiago cheese, salt & pepper, 1 bunch fresh basil
  • To make the pasta
  • Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil & the minced garlic.
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Add butter and crushed red pepper.
    1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Add in the cooked noodles & stir.
    1 Tablespoon white wine, ¼ cup chicken stock
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine and then add the chicken stock.
    2 medium roma tomatoes, 2 cups fresh spinach
  • When the noodles begin to sizzle a bit, add the chopped tomatoes and spinach.
  • Add in the cream.
    2 ounces heavy cream
  • Toss & stir then turn off heat.
  • Pour on the pesto and let the tomatoes warm and spinach wilt.
  • Garnish with the remaining shaved Asiago cheese.

Notes

  • To keep the dish vegetarian, use vegetable broth in place of chicken.
  • If you like a really saucy pasta, double the pesto portion of the recipe. 
  • Good additions: mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, black or kalamata olives, or kale. 
  • Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano can be used in place of asiago.
  • Add grilled chicken breast, grilled shrimp, or Italian sausage for protein.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 136mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1409IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published 1/6/2011. Updated 5/25/16 and 9/26/23.

Homemade Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi is the perfect copycat version made right in your own kitchen! | Persnickety Plates
Pesto Cavatappi is one of my favorite dishes from Noodles & Company. This homemade pasta dish with fresh pesto sauce is a perfect comfort food dish.





5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 Comments

  1. Lovely dish. Thanks for linking it in to Food on Friday: Mushrooms. I have just signed up to follow you. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers