When it comes to gardening, my thumb is pretty much black. The one thing I have success with every summer, though, is basil.
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.
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).
I also love pesto on sauteed zucchini “pasta”. You may like this low carb alternative.
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.
Which do you prefer? Regular or creamy 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.
40 responses to “Creamy Pesto Sauce”
This sounds delish, Thanks for sharing, Nanci
Thanks, Nanci. 🙂
Lovely recipe. I especially like the zucchini pasta with pesto. I think I would choose “creamy” pesto if given a choice. 🙂 Your photographs are beautiful.
Thanks so much about the photos — I’m such an amateur!
We have a lot of basil too. Definitely trying this. Thanks :)!
Hope you like it, Jama! Hope you’ve had a nice summer too!
It sure is delicious!! I really love pesto!!!
I do too — I mentioned we made some last night — the cream sauce one. I had to double it!
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 🙂
Yeah, creamy is sooo good! We had some last night!
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 😦
We’ll miss you too, Susan!
Can’t wait to eat this! Thank you!
Thanks, I hope you like it!
I’ll let you know! I really enjoy your blog! Thank you!
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.
OMG, that sounds amazing! I ‘ve never tried it with macadamia nuts!
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!
Thanks so much about the photos! 🙂
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!
Realmente fabuloso !! felicitaciones!!
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Hmm was not aware of the freezing situation with the cheese which totally makes sense – thanks for the helpful info!
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)
Mmmm, looking good!
Love pesto! Will have to give this one a try!
Great! hope you like it!
Wow, this looks and sounds amazing. I’m going to try it 🙂
This looks so delicious! must make a note to try it sometime soon. Pesto is just so good and delicious isnt it? 😀
Thanks! Yes, pesto is the best! 🙂
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!
It was a nice review! 🙂
great pics and blog!
awesome food and great post.
Thanks so much!
What a beautiful website. You did a very good job on it:)
Love all the content. Looking forward to more:)
Thanks so much, Debby! 🙂
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!
Good idea to thin it out! 🙂