[Vegetarian]: RM5.90 Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I can’t recommend this pesto pasta recipe enough. It’s simple yet packed with flavor & meal-prep-able. I got this recipe from Gennaro on YouTube and tweaked it, so it works with stuff we can get in Malaysian grocery stores.

Let’s get started:

Why I Recommend This Recipe For You:

  • It’s easy to make. Seriously, if a hopeless bachelor like myself can pull this off, so can anyone.
  • You can make the pesto sauce in bulk and freeze for later.
  • Ingredients are a little expensive. But considering that you can make a lot of meals out of it, the cost goes down to RM 4.80 per meal.
  • It’s a vegetarian recipe that tastes good. So if you mostly have a meat-based diet, this is a smooth transition.
  • Fellas, if you want to impress the ladies or friends, with a western cuisine flair, this is it.

Ingredients & Cost

Pasta of choiceIn stock
Olive oil2-4 tablespoonIn stock
Garlic 2 clovesIn stock
Fresh sweet basil leaves1 bag @ 50 gRM 5
Roasted Almond nuts40 gRM 4.80
Sun-dried tomatoes1 jar (160 g @ RM 14)*~RM 1
Parmesan Cheese1 block (250 g @ RM 22)*~RM 2
Ingredient costs to make 4 meal portions

If you cook often, most of the ingredients above should already be in your kitchen and will not be counted in price, shown as ‘In stock’ in the price section.

Some items are expensive to buy outright, like the sun-dried tomatoes and block of Parmesan cheese. I estimated the value of the chunk that we will be using in this recipe (~RM2 each).

Total Active Ingredients Cost: RM 17.80. Considering that I can make four pesto meals out of this portion, the cost per meal is around RM 5.90.

Almond Nuts: The original recipe requires pine nuts. Where in Malaysia are you going to find this? A quick search on Google recommends the closest substitute for pine nuts would be almond nuts (I’ve tried it, and it works!)

Basil Leaves: Fellas, there are two types of basils sold in Malaysia: Thai basil & European basil (aka sweet basil). You need the sweet basil for this recipe. Both typically costs around RM 5 per 50g bag at Village Grocer:

Sundried Tomatoes: A jar of sundried tomatoes (~RM 13) in oil can last a long time. Here’s what it looks like from two different brands:

Special Equipment Needed

You will need a pestle and mortar for this recipe. You’ll use it to crush the almonds and pummel the basil leaves to make the pesto paste.

Pestle & Mortar

Instructions For Pesto Sauce

Put these ingredients in the pestle and mortar:

STEP 1: Crush the almonds until it looks like coarse sea salt. Don’t beat it into a powder. You’ll need the crunch. Here’s what it should roughly look like:

Ideal crushed almonds texture

STEP 2: Sprinkle a pinch of salt & pound 2 cloves of garlic

STEP 3: Put in the basil leaves (leaves only, not the stem) bit by bit and start crushing.

STEP 4: Put in some olive oil to make it easier to infuse everything together. Put it in bit by bit to avoid splatting oil all over the place.

STEP 5: Put in more of the basil leaves bit by bit with enough olive oil each time until you run out of basil leaves.

Keep pounding until the paste and olive oil to basil leaves looks something like this:

My pesto paste scooped into a bowl

STEP 6: Grate around a palm-full of parmesan cheese into the mix, and add the crushed almonds in. Mix everything and dip your finger in there and taste if it’s about right.

There you have it. You got the pesto sauce ready. This pesto sauce is freezable & retains flavor after being reheated (I’ve tried it).

Two big tablespoons of this pesto paste can make one pasta meal for me.

To make meal preps, I place two tablespoons of the pesto paste into a ziplock bag and stuff it into my freezer.

Making the Pasta & Putting it All Together

STEP 1: Boil the pasta as instructed at the back of the packaging (i.e: 8 mins) and set the al dente pasta aside.

STEP 2: Take out around 2 of the dried tomatoes from the jar and cut them into bite sizes.

STEP 3: Heat your pan to medium-low heat with a drizzle of olive oil.

STEP 4: Quickly stir fry the dried tomatoes (don’t fry them. You want to heat it enough to release its flavor and reduce the sourness).

STEP 5: Add in 2 tablespoons of the pesto pasta paste into the pan to gently heat it up.

STEP 6: Then add in the al dente pasta into the pan and mix everything up.


Finished Pesto Pasta

Now it’s your time to shine. Try this recipe, show me the pics and tell me how much did you end up spending 🙂

Helmi Hasan

Hi, I'm Helmi Hasan, the founder, and writer for the personal finance blog, Balkoni Hijau. Read more in the 'About Me' page or follow me on Twitter.

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