I made fresh Pesto for the first time this summer and WOW, I am in love. There is no comparison to the bland jarred sauce I have tasted before. I knew this would be a dish enjoyed by the adults of our house, but I was not too sure how the kiddos would take a green sauce that smelled like garlic. I forged ahead with the meal anyway and gave it a fun name in hopes that the kids might at least try it: Sparkle Pasta! (said with a flourish and waving fingers to make it sound amazing and magical to kids)
I needn't have worried, after they got over the initial shock of green pasta (Look at the sparkles, kids! Can you see the sparkles?!) they loved it, and now beg for sparkle pasta for dinner all the time.
The initial recipe came from the Pioneer Woman website, but it has evolved somewhat as I have made this dish over and over and over for my family and friends. I use the original recipe as more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule of how much of each ingredient to add. With pesto, garlic, cheese and olive oil, it is hard to go wrong. The pesto itself is amazing, so fresh and wonderful tasting, but the addition of cream (or half and half, which tastes better to me for some reason) takes this dish to the level of food perfection. Make way more than you think you'll need, it is really, really good.
Pesto Cream Sauce
• 3/4 cups Fresh Basil Leaves (I use about 2 cups)
• 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
• 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
• 2 cloves Garlic, Peeled
• Salt And Pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (I prefer half and half)
• 2 Tablespoons Butter
• 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan (additional)
• 12 ounces, weight Pasta (we use bow tie, or homemade pasta)
• 2 whole Tomatoes, Diced
Cook pasta until al dente.
Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed. Set aside.
Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pesto and stir.
Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour pesto cream over the top. Toss to combine. Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly. Serve immediately.