Pesto Cavatappi (Noodles & Company Copycat)

There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

This is one of my absolute favorite quick dinners to make, whether or not I’m pressed for time. It used to be my standing order at Noodles and Company, but now that I don’t live anywhere near one, I set about figuring out how to crack the cavatappi code and make it myself.

And that’s just what I did! Because when you can’t get to a Noodles, you have to bring the Noodles to you. 

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled pesto cavatappi ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Cavatappi: You can substitute rotini, rigatoni, bow-tie, or any small or medium-sized pasta.
  • Mushrooms: Noodles & Company puts them in, but you can leave them out.
  • Dry white wine: Substitute more chicken broth for the wine if you want to.
  • Pesto. Homemade pesto or store-bought.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms and tomatoes until the mushrooms release their liquid and the tomatoes are heated through.
    Tomatoes and mushrooms cooking in a silver pan with a wooden spoon.
  2. Next, stir in the broth, wine, and cream and bring everything to a boil. Turn down the heat and reduce the mixture until the sauce has thickened slightly. This should take about two minutes.
    Cream being poured onto cooked mushrooms and tomatoes in a silver pan.
  3. After that, add the pesto and give the sauce a stir. Cook for another couple minutes.
    Pesto being stirred into mushrooms and tomato mixture in a silver pan.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce and gently toss until the sauce finds all the nooks and crannies in the pasta. Then all you have to do is serve it up in big bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Vegetarian: Substitute pasta cooking water for the chicken broth. The starches in the pasta water make the recipe even creamier.
  • Chicken: Cook chunks of chicken in olive oil before you add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Throw in the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook when the chicken is just barely pink, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
  • Shrimp: Add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook (they cook quickly).
  • Zucchini noodles: Super healthy dinner ahead! Get the sauce made and stir in raw zucchini ribbons. Serve when the zucchini is just warm. Don’t overcook it, because zucchini tastes best as pasta when it still has a little crunch.
  • Other mix-ins: Black olives, fresh spinach, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

More Italian recipes:

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

Pesto Cavatappi (Noodles and Company Copycat)

There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.
4.97 from 31 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 423kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or other small pasta (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large tomato cored and diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced (optional, see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (see note 3)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup homemade pesto or store-bought (see note 4)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts of water and salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes and mushrooms (if using) and cook for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has been released and the tomatoes are heated through.
  • Stir in the broth, wine, and cream and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  • Add pesto and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add pasta and toss until uniformly coated in the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Video

Notes

  1. Cavatappi: You can substitute rotini, rigatoni, bow-tie, or any small or medium-sized pasta.
  2. Mushrooms: Noodles & Company puts them in, but you can leave them out.
  3. Dry white wine: Substitute more chicken broth for the wine if you want to.
  4. Pesto. Homemade pesto or store-bought.
  5. Vegetarian: Substitute pasta cooking water for the chicken broth. The starches in the pasta water make the recipe even creamier.
  6. Chicken: Cook chunks of chicken in olive oil before you add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Throw in the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook when the chicken is just barely pink, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
  7. Shrimp: Add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook (they cook quickly).
  8. Zucchini noodles: Super healthy dinner ahead! Get the sauce made and stir in raw zucchini ribbons. Serve when the zucchini is just warm. Don’t overcook it, because zucchini tastes best as pasta when it still has a little crunch.
  9. Other mix-ins: Black olives, fresh spinach, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 1397mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1021IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 217mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. PJ

    This dish is perfection! Simple, satisfying flavor. So glad I tried this recipe!5 stars

  2. Nance

    This was a hit with my whole family! Usually my husband doesn’t like anything “fancier” than spaghetti, the silly goose, but he was tickled pink by this meal.5 stars

  3. Glenda

    Appreciation to my father who informed me about this webpage, this webpage is truly amazing.5 stars

  4. Jane Deaux

    as a former noodles employee, the recipe is less complicated than this. pesto cavatappi is a vegetarian dish, unless you add chicken or other protein so chicken broth is not needed. make the pasta, put vegetable oil in a sauté pan and then add the pasta and mushrooms and tomatoes and 2 tbsps of creamy pesto and some cream and toss it around and that’s it. super easy.4 stars

  5. Michael

    Just made it and it was so good! I accidentally added to much pesto, so it was ok but would have been perfect if I used the right amount. Thanks!

  6. Kim

    I’m a complete recipe snob… I typically choose ones with long and drawn out steps. I chose simplicity tonight… and I’m glad that I did. This recipe was spot on and absolutely amazing!! I not only served an amazing supper, I had time to enjoy outside with my mini me! Thank you so much!!5 stars

  7. Kaylie

    This taste just like noodles and company!!! Amazing! I used chickpea noodles and instead of wine I used a shot of vodka. And more chicken broth. SO GOOD!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Kaylie! You go girl! And thanks. -Meggan

  8. Suzie

    Can’t wait to try, but fun fact Noodles and Company actually doesn’t have any nuts in their pesto. This is my daughter’s fav meal there and she is allergic to nuts which is why I know. Thanks

  9. anonymous 👍

    BEST RECIPE EVER! I absolutely love the pesto cavetappi from noodles and company and this tasted the exact same!!! was easy to make and perfect for a family meal! *i did not use any of the wine and it still tasted absolutely delicious!5 stars

  10. Denise

    OMG this recipe was so easy and fast. Tasted better than Noodles & Co. I substituted the chopped tomatoes for slices cherry tomatoes……deliziosa5 stars

  11. Stacy

    Great copycat recipe, tasted just like at Noodles! I opted to make my own Pesto and everything tasted so fresh and delicious!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thank you so much Stacy! I truly appreciate it! :) -Meggan

  12. Roy

    Amazing! Luv, luv, luv it. The sauce has great depth of flavors. I added shrimp I’ll try chicken next time.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you Roy! So happy to hear that. Great addition ideas. Thanks again. -Meggan

  13. Christine

    Pesto Cavatappi is my favorite Noodles and Company dish. I think I agree, this recipe is a little bit better. I even made my own pesto. The only thing I will change next time, only because of personal taste, is to add much less pasta. Other than that, perfect! Thank you so much!5 stars

  14. Sandra

    Wonderful!!! As good or better than N&C but be sure to add your grilled chicken breast to make it even better!5 stars

  15. Kimberly Peters

    Any ideas or hints on how they cook their tofu?

  16. Dave

    I have to disagree about using cooking wine of any sort.  Any inexpensive white wine will make the dish taste better than white cooking wine.  Want sweet use a dry Madeira.  Don’t cook with anything you would not drink.5 stars

    1. meggan

      I actually totally agree with you. That’s obviously a typo in the recipe, I would never buy “cooking wine.” Gross. Thanks for pointing that out!! XOXOXO

  17. In my book a pasta dish such as this is a year round fav! Looks so vibrant and stunning.

  18. Lisa

    This recipe is awesome! Tonight was the second time I’ve made it. I think my one-year old ate more than I did. It was a huge hit with my 3 picky kids! Thanks for continuing to make amazing recipes! 5 stars

  19. Jaime

    Made this last week, making it again today because my family loved it so much. Thanks!5 stars

  20. Alexis

    This recipe is amazing!!! It tastes exactly like the real deal, I don’t think I’ll ever go to Noodles again. Great, great recipe, and so easy to make!5 stars

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