If you’re craving a decadent pasta dish that’s easy to make and bursting with flavor, look no further than a delightful pesto cream sauce. This sumptuous sauce combines the classic, fragrant taste of pesto with the rich, velvety texture of cream, forming a perfect topping for your favorite pasta. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this versatile recipe is sure to impress your guests and tantalize their taste buds.
Pasta lovers often turn to the traditional tomato-based sauces for their dishes, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up and explore different flavors. The pesto cream sauce is a unique and delicious option that provides a delightful blend of fresh herbs, savory ingredients, and creamy consistency. Plus, it’s a relatively simple recipe that requires only a few key ingredients, making it an ideal choice for when you need a quick yet delicious meal after a long day.
In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process to create this luxurious pesto cream sauce, suitable for a variety of pasta dishes. You’ll learn how to choose the best ingredients and how to blend them into a sauce that’s smooth, rich, and utterly tempting. So, let’s dive into the art of making this crowd-pleasing pasta sauce that’s sure to become a staple in your recipe collection.
Preparation and Cooking
Creating the Pesto
To create the pesto, gather the following ingredients:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pistachios
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino)
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, combine the fresh basil leaves, nuts, and garlic cloves. Pulse until coarsely chopped. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil until well combined. Next, add the grated cheese, salt, and pepper, and pulse to combine. Set this basil pesto aside for later use.
Making the Roux
For the roux, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk or heavy cream
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the flour to form a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk or heavy cream, stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Cook the mixture until it thickens, then season with salt and black pepper. Remove the saucepan from the stove.
Combining for Final Sauce
To create the final pesto cream sauce, add the following to the roux:
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper to taste (optional)
Combine the basil pesto and lemon juice with the roux, stirring well to ensure an even mix. Taste the sauce and add extra salt or black pepper if desired.
Picking the Right Pasta
Pair your pesto cream sauce with your choice of pasta. For a classic combo, use linguine. However, you can also use it with pasta salad, adding ingredients such as:
- Fresh tomatoes
For a vegetarian or gluten-free option, try swapping traditional pasta with zucchini noodles or gluten-free pasta. Additionally, you can enhance your dish by including blueberries for a burst of flavor. Finally, cook your pasta according to its package instructions, and toss it with your delicious pesto cream sauce. Enjoy!
Storing and Reusing
Preserving the Sauce
Proper storage is essential for maintaining the freshness and flavor of your pesto cream sauce. To store your leftover sauce, follow these simple steps:
- Refrigerate: Place the sauce in an air-tight container and cover the surface with a layer of plastic wrap to prevent oxidation. This will help keep the vibrant green color intact.
- Label: Write the date on a piece of masking tape and stick it on the container. The sauce should stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.
- Freeze: For longer storage, consider freezing your pesto cream sauce. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bags and remove as much air as possible. Freeze for up to three months. When you’re ready to use it again, defrost the sauce overnight in the refrigerator.
Use your stored pesto cream sauce in various dishes to keep your meals interesting, or simply enjoy it as a dip or spread.
The versatility of cream pesto sauce makes it a perfect addition to many dishes. Here are a few ideas for incorporating it into your meals:
- Pasta: Toss the cream pesto sauce with your favorite pasta, such as cavatappi or fettuccine. Add some reserved pasta water if it’s too thick, then top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Pasta Salad: Combine the sauce with cooked pasta, grilled vegetables, nuts, and crumbled cheese for a tasty pasta salad. Add some lemon zest for extra brightness.
- Dip: Serve the sauce as a dip for fresh vegetables, crackers, or breadsticks. It pairs excellently with a variety of crudité.
- Sandwiches: Use it as a spread on sandwiches or burgers for extra flavor and creaminess.
Get creative and discover new ways to use your pesto cream sauce in the kitchen, transforming simple dishes into vibrant and delicious concoctions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main ingredients in pesto cream sauce?
The main ingredients in pesto cream sauce are basil pesto, heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese. These ingredients give the sauce a rich, creamy texture while maintaining the classic basil pesto flavor. You can also add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.
How can I make chicken with pesto cream sauce?
To make chicken with pesto cream sauce, start by seasoning and pan-frying boneless, skinless chicken breasts on both sides until they are cooked through and golden brown. Then, prepare the pesto cream sauce in a separate pan by melting butter, adding the pesto, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, and stirring until smooth. Pour the prepared sauce over your cooked chicken and serve immediately.
What is a simple pesto cream sauce recipe for pasta?
A simple pesto cream sauce recipe for pasta involves the following steps:
- Cook your choice of pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
- Add 1/2 cup of basil pesto, 1 cup of heavy cream, and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until well combined.
- Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to your preference.
- Toss your cooked pasta in the sauce, and serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top if desired.
What variations can I try in a pesto cream cheese sauce?
For a twist on a classic pesto cream sauce, try adding cream cheese. To do this, simply add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese along with the heavy cream and pesto. This will result in a thicker, tangier sauce that pairs well with pasta and grilled chicken. You can also experiment with different types of pesto, such as sun-dried tomato or roasted red pepper, for a new flavor profile.
How can I make creamy pesto Alfredo sauce?
To make a creamy pesto Alfredo sauce, combine the classic Alfredo ingredients, such as garlic, butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, with basil pesto. Start by melting butter and gently cooking minced garlic in a large saucepan. Then, whisk in the pesto, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve this delicious sauce over your favorite pasta.
Can I use half and half for a creamy pesto sauce?
Yes, you can use half and half instead of heavy cream in a creamy pesto sauce recipe to achieve a lighter texture and lower fat content. Simply substitute an equal amount of half and half for the heavy cream in your recipe and proceed as directed. Keep in mind that the sauce may take slightly longer to thicken due to the reduced fat content.