This Shiso Pesto Pasta delivers its sunny character and bold flavor from the homemade green shiso (perilla) pesto sauce. This vegetarian-friendly recipe is one of those light and easy weeknight dishes you‘ll want to enjoy all summer long.
After making a big batch of homemade shiso pesto, I can’t help but to share the easiest Shiso Pesto Pasta (大葉ジェノベーゼパスタ) recipe with you. This is my family’s current favorite and the kind of dinner you can throw together under 15 minutes.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love Shiso Pesto Pasta
The pasta itself is a breeze to make, but we also LOVE it for many reasons:
- It’s earthy, bold, bright, and everything you need in a summer pasta bowl.
- Enjoy chilled like a salad or warm (year-round)!
- A satisfying vegetarian meal – thanks to the richness of the pesto sauce and the carbs.
- Super flexible – you can add grilled chicken, shrimp, or in-season veggies to volumize.
- Perfect for weeknight dinners, summer picnics, potlucks, barbecues, and gatherings!
How to Make Shiso Pesto
To enjoy the pasta, you’ll first need to make my Homemade Shiso Pesto (takes less than 10 minutes). It calls for the aromatic Japanese herb known as green shiso leaves or perilla leaves. If you missed it, you can get the Shiso Pesto recipe here.
All you really need to do is a quick whirl of shiso leaves, Parmesan, pine nuts, and a glug of good olive oil in the food processor.
For those of you who can’t get shiso, I listed several substitutions for the pesto sauce, so do check that out.
How to Make Shiso Pesto Pasta
The Ingredients You’ll Need
- Homemade shiso pesto
- Pasta of your choice ( I used Gemelli in this recipe)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese
The Cooking Steps
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Reserve 2-4 Tbsp pasta cooking water.
- Drain and let the pasta cool slightly.
- Coat the pasta with shiso pesto and add a little bit of pasta cooking water.
- Sprinkle cheese and serve!
Quick Tips to Remember Before Cooking
- Cook pasta with well-salted water – Pasta should be seasoned while being cooked.
- Reserve the pasta cooking water (if you don’t have the habit already) – Always reserve at least 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. It’s helpful when you need to loosen the sauce.
- Let the pasta cool slightly – To keep the pesto’s bright green color, don’t mix the hot pasta with pesto.
- Additional cheese is a must!
What to Serve with Shiso Pesto Pasta
In case you or someone in the family wants some substantial addition to the pasta, feel free to toss in:
- Prosciutto or chopped bacon.
- Grilled chicken, shrimp, zucchini, peppers, or meaty mushrooms.
- Avocado slices, sweet juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, or salty olives.
- Besides shavings of Parmesan, pearls of fresh mozzarella would be delicious too.
Shiso Pesto Pasta
- 7 oz pasta (I use gemelli)
- 1½ Tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (for cooking the pasta)
- 4 Tbsp Homemade Shiso Pesto (or more, to taste; it takes just 10 minutes to make my shiso pesto recipe)
- 2 Tbsp reserved pasta water
- ¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (for seasoning; to taste)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese (shaved/grated)
- shiso leaves (perilla/ooba) (for garnish)
- Before You Start: Prepare my recipe for Homemade Shiso Pesto—it takes just 10 minutes to make. Gather all the ingredients.
- Start boiling a large pot of water (I used a 4 QT Dutch oven). Once boiling, add 1½ Tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt and 7 oz pasta. Stir to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to each other.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Collect 2 Tbsp reserved pasta water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
- Mix it all together. Add the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce.
- Season the pasta with ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper and ¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
- Finally, add shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese to taste and toss it all together.
- You can enjoy this dish either warm or chilled like a salad. Serve the pasta on individual plates and garnish with shiso leaves (perilla/ooba) and more shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 7, 2021. It’s been republished with more information on August 9, 2023.