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!
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Homemade Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi
Need more pasta recipes? Try these:
Click here for my entire collection of pasta recipes.
Originally published 1/6/2011. Updated 5/25/16 and 9/26/23.