My pasta in pesto cream sauce recipe was created in response to a serious craving I’ve been having lately for Noodles & Company’s Pesto Cavatappi. The problem is, I know darn well that the minute I go and order pesto cavatappi and then actually taste it, I’m going to be disappointed. It will be too salty or too bland or too not what I remember from the many years ago I lived in the Denver area and Noodles & Company opened up in Lakewood and my ex and I would go there for dinner every weekend.
Part of the problem with food memories is that in memory, everything looks so tasty. However, in the past ten years or so, I’ve greatly reduced the amount of sugar and salt in my diet, and I am starting to suspect that what made things tasty before I did this was probably the sugar and salt. Now, the same ingredients make things taste “not right”.
In some cases, my solution has been to create the dish I think I remember, which is what I’ve done with this pasta in pesto cream sauce. I would love for it to have been cavatappi in pesto cream sauce, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find cavatappi noodles anywhere. I settled for orecchiette, though any pasta would be fine.
I had a bit of basil and some tomatoes left in the garden, so it seemed appropriate to finish out the last few days of the official summertime with pesto and tomatoes. I used oyster mushrooms, but any mushroom would work. Though this has a cream sauce, it freezes just fine – when you reheat it, just be sure to give it a good stir before you eat.
Pasta in Pesto Cream Sauce
Pesto Cream Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
Splash white wine (optional)
¼ cup pesto
Pasta and Toppings
½ package pasta (penne, orecchiette, or similar)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ pound mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Boil water for the pasta in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft. Add the parsley and turn off the heat. Set aside.
To make the cream sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When butter is melted, incorporate the flour a bit at a time, whisking with each addition. When all flour has been incorporated, cook for a minute, whisking the entire time. Add the half and half or cream and continue to whisk and cook over low heat for about 5-7 minutes (or until sauce is thickened). Take the sauce off the heat and add the pesto.
Plate the pasta in four bowls. Add the toppings to each bowl. Pour the cream sauce over each bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!