Creamy Pesto Sauce

creamy pesto ravioli


When it comes to gardening, my thumb is pretty much black.  The one thing I have success with every summer, though, is basil.

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

And everyone knows, the best way to use copious amounts of basil is to make PESTO!  I make a lot during the summer and freeze it for future use.  When freezing, the one thing you want to remember to do is omit the cheese — it messes up the texture.  Then after the pesto is thawed and heated, add grated parmesan to it.

Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, which can be really expensive. I buy the Chinese ones instead of the Spanish ones.  Also, you can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts if the price is too great in your area.

Mmm.  Toasted pine nuts!
Mmm. Toasted pine nuts!

You just process the nuts with basil, garlic, parmesan, salt, and olive oil, and you end up with a great sauce.  You can also thin the sauce with some hot pasta water (from the pot you boiled your pasta in).

pesto with pasta

With some extra grated parmesan of course!

I also love pesto on sauteed zucchini “pasta”.  You may like this low carb alternative.

pesto with zucchini slices

Another great pesto sauce is a creamy version.  Heat cream cheese and milk in a sauce pan, whisk until smooth, and then whisk in about 2 large spoonfuls of pesto.  It makes a wonderfully creamy pesto sauce that is not as rich and fattening as one made with heavy cream.

creamy pesto ravioli2

Which do you prefer?  Regular or creamy pesto sauce?

Pesto Sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup  pine nuts

a huge bunch of basil leaves, washed and dried

2 garlic cloves, smashed

about 1/4 cup olive oil or more as needed

grated parmesan to taste

kosher salt to taste

1.  Toast pine nuts.  I use my toaster oven.  Watch carefully, because they brown quickly!  You could also toast them in a skillet on the stove.  Keep stirring and watch them so you don’t burn them.  Remove from heat and let cool.

2.  Wash and dry basil leaves.

3.  Process basil in a food processor until chopped up fine.  Add garlic and pine nuts and process until fine.  While processor is running, add olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth.  Add grated cheese if you plan to use immediately, rather than freezing the pesto.  Taste.  Add salt if you think it needs it. Or more olive oil.

4.  Cook pasta until al dente. Dress with the pesto sauce — thin if you need to with pasta water.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup light cream cheese

1/4 cup milk

2 large spoonfuls of regular pesto sauce (see above)

1.  Heat cream cheese and milk in saucepan over low to medium heat.  Slowly whisk together until smooth.

2.  Whisk in dollops of pesto sauce.

3.  Serve over you favorite pasta.

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40 Comments

Filed under Condiments, Dinner, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

40 responses to “Creamy Pesto Sauce

  1. This sounds delish, Thanks for sharing, Nanci

  2. Lovely recipe. I especially like the zucchini pasta with pesto. I think I would choose “creamy” pesto if given a choice. šŸ™‚ Your photographs are beautiful.

  3. We have a lot of basil too. Definitely trying this. Thanks :)!

  4. It sure is delicious!! I really love pesto!!!

  5. Great tip about freezing the pesto without Parmesan in, thank you. And the link to the zucchini “pasta” is great – I love that idea!
    PS – it’s hard to beat a creamy sauce šŸ™‚

  6. I love pesto too and Basil grows really good down here in Florida, I never thought of freezing it, great idea. I am going to try that. Thanks, love your blog and will miss seeing you this September in Honesdale šŸ˜¦

  7. Can’t wait to eat this! Thank you!

  8. This all looks delicious. I want to try your zucchini recipe. Pesto really is one of my favorites. When we still lived in Hawaii, my aunt made her pesto with toasted macadamia nuts.

  9. OMG, that sounds amazing! I ‘ve never tried it with macadamia nuts!

  10. Your photos are superb! I feel like I can smell and almost taste them through the computer. I don’t think I’ve ever tried creamy pesto sauce, but I would most definitely be open to try it!

  11. Touche with your Basil! I love the smell it gives the room. I have also tried adding peas to this so we can get a bit more greens with our pasta. Happy Nesting!

  12. Realmente fabuloso !! felicitaciones!!

  13. Pingback: 2014 Round Up Top Five Posts | The Hungry Artist

  14. Hmm was not aware of the freezing situation with the cheese which totally makes sense – thanks for the helpful info!

  15. Creamy all the way! Thanks for the idea, it is definitely something to try… also I should try keeping alive a basil plant (or any plant for the matter)

  16. Love pesto! Will have to give this one a try!

  17. Wow, this looks and sounds amazing. I’m going to try it šŸ™‚

  18. thatepicfoodiegirl

    This looks so delicious! must make a note to try it sometime soon. Pesto is just so good and delicious isnt it? šŸ˜€

  19. chubbynathan

    That looks great. I love pesto. We have wild garlic growing next to the house and often use that when its in season. I use courgettes instead of pasta at times too. It goes so well with steak. Thanks for liking my post, that’s really kind of you!

  20. What a beautiful website. You did a very good job on it:)
    Love all the content. Looking forward to more:)

  21. Katy

    Just had the creamy sauce tonight, I would say a little too thick as written so I added some pasta water to thin it out which helped. Yum!

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