Try as we might, we have yet to find a store-bought pesto that tastes as good as a homemade batch. We love making homemade sauces and pesto is one that we make regularly in the summer. We love to drizzle it over sliced tomatoes and mozzarella for a caprese salad, throw it on a grilled flatbread with artichokes and burrata, or use it as a base for pasta like in this recipe today. As we move into summer and have basil growing like crazy in the garden, we like to make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays so that we can pop it out and throw it into a recipe later on. We love this basic creamy pesto pasta recipe because it is so versatile throughout the spring and summer. It is great as it is or can be leveled up into a complete meal with the addition of some sautéed chicken. Because this pasta is a bit on the rich and decadent side, we like to balance things out by serving it with a punchy side dish like our Simple Arugula Salad.
Creamy Pesto Pasta
Ingredients for the Pesto
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbs toasted pine nuts
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Pasta
- 1 lb fettuccini
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- a small pinch of chili flakes, optional
- 3/4 cup pesto
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- toasted pine nuts for garnish, optional
- Make the pesto. Place the basil leaves, garlic, and pine nuts in a small blender or food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients until the garlic and pine nuts are mostly broken down. Add the olive oil and vegetable oil to the blender and blend until evenly combined and the pesto is smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and blend for just a moment to combine it with the other ingredients- do not over-blend to the point of melting the cheese in a hot blender. Remove from the blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring the water to a boil. Cook the fettuccini according to package directions for al dente, or about 13 minutes. Remove at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta and set the pasta water aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes to the pan and sauté about 3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Add the pesto and heavy cream to the pan and gently whisk the ingredients to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to low until the pasta is ready to be drained. Add the pasta immediately from the strainer to the creamy pesto sauce. Use tongs to gently combine the ingredients and get the pasta well coated with sauce. Add the pasta water a few tablespoons at a time, as necessary, to make sure that all of the pasta is covered with pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a few fresh basil leaves and toasted pine nuts for garnish.