Pesto Pasta

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My husband could probably put pesto on ice cream, he loves it that much. I haven’t tried that, but I do try to use pesto quite often in a variety of dishes to make him happy.

I make as much pesto as possible during the summer months. I to buy gallons of good olive oil in order to make the pesto, because my garden grows a lot of basil. After I make it I freeze it in jars, and thaw a jar out in the fridge as I need it throughout the year. Even after giving a lot away, I still end up with a surplus of pesto, but that’s just fine with the hubby.

If none of you has made pesto before, here is the link to my post on how I make pesto. It takes a little time, but oh, it’s so well worth it. I make mine with just basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts. I omit the Parmesan if I’m making pesto to freeze, and add the cheese when I’m preparing the dish, at the last minute.

There are many other kinds of pestos besides the basil-pine nut variety that you can make, as well. Italian purists look down on those other pestos, as I probably once did. Because there of course is truly only one kind of pesto, and that’s traditional pesto the Ligurian way.

If you’ve never been to Liguria, you must go. The air smells like basil because it grows so prolifically in that region! I had the best lasgane verde in a little town called Monterosso. Before the meal I watched the chef, who reminded me of an Italian Julia Child, make pesto with a mortar and pestle. She had a very strong arm!

But as I’ve often said on my blog, I have mellowed after so many years of cooking, especially after cooking for other people. So now, I don’t care what’s called a pesto, a coulis, a paté, a confit – you name it. I’ve dined out enough to know that chefs are more creative in describing their own dishes on menus, so obviously it’s not committing heresy to use terms loosely. So I don’t care if it’s a real pesto or a pesto-like creation. I only care if it’s good!

And playing with various leaves and nuts or seeds to make non-traditional pestos is really fun. I’ve made them with parsley, cilantro, spinach leaves, and jalapenos. And I’ve made them with just about every nut and seed out there, including macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds.

But this post is about my husband’s favorite dish – pasta with basil pesto. Spring is in the air, and although I use pesto year-round, pesto reminds me that summer is coming and my garden will be flourishing once again with basil leaves.

For hubby’s lunch today, I used a fun rice pasta, sold by Williams-Sonoma. No, I’m not on a gluten-free bandwagon. I truly don’t care what kind of pasta you use. My husband simply can’t eat wheat, and fortunately, there are so many other options available these days. They work, and they’re good.

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I made the pasta sauce creamy with some goats’ milk. No, I’m not on the anti-dairy bandwagon, either. I just happened to have a partially-used can of goats’ milk in my fridge and wanted to use it up. Plus, it adds a goat cheesiness that is superb in pasta.

Then I served the pasta with Mediterranean-Style Chicken sausages that I purchase from D’Artagnan. They’re delicious, by the way.

Creamy Pesto Pasta

1 – .88 pound package of Gigli pasta
1/2 cup goats’ milk
1 cup purchased pesto (or 1/3 cup of the cheese-less pesto I make)
Grated Asiago cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, which in this case was 5 minutes for al dente. Drain, then place the pasta in a large bowl.

Mix the goats’ milk and pesto together in a bowl,

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then pour this mixture into the hot pasta. The pasta will gradually absorb the liquid.

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Toss very gently so as to not damage the pasta.

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Place on a plate and top with some cheese. Today I chose Asiago over Parmesan – it just has a more pungent flavor to me. Serve the creamy pesto pasta with grilled sausages, like in the photo, or grilled chicken, or even salmon. For a vegetarian option, add some well-drained garbanzo beans to the pasta.

note: Pasta with pesto is usually just pasta and pesto. It’s absolutely delicious. However, sometimes I like to add cream, or in this case goats’ milk just because it’s so much creamier. It also makes the pesto flavor a little milder, which you may or may not prefer, depending how garlic-hot your pesto is. And, there’s always extra cheese!

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30 thoughts on “Pesto Pasta

  1. I’m with you on the authenticity thing – very easy to be caught up in it when flavour matters most! You know, I think a pesto type ice cream could be a good experiment! There is Heston’s bacon and egg ice cream after all… Dish looks lovely – big fan of pesto (red AND green)!

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  2. Pesto Pasta is my wife’s go-to dish on a cold winter’s evening – and seeing how round here it’s still below freezing in the middle of Spring she’d probably like it right now (but she’s asleep)!

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      • I’ve only started doing the pasta water thing after having cooked pasta for a number of years. It is only a bit, think tablespoons, and you use it when you are mixing the pasta with a sauce and it seems too dry. It is better to add the pasta water rather than just water because (1) it is hot and (2) it has starch and so willl cling and mix better. I used to dilute pesto with more olive oil to make pasta al pesto less dry, but diluting with water is obviously the healthier option.

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      • I bet I know what is was. I just remembered the last time I used pasta water was in pasta carbonara and it seemed too watery. For my meals at home I always use whole grain pastas because of health reasons. They’re less glutinous and don’t absorb liquid like traditional semolina or white pastas. And the remaining water isn’t starchy. That’s what the difference probably was. Now I will think about It! I just made puttanesca for my mother last night, and I had to add a few drops of water. Part of the reason is that she has an electric stove that I’m not used to so I needed to make sure nothing would stick. I could have used the pasta water last night! Thanks for getting me to think about this!

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      • For carbonara you really need just a tablespoon of cooking water to make it work. I’ve tried wholewheat pasta a few times and am not crazy about it, now I see why :-)

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  3. It’s authentic basil pine nut pasta I love. I ordered pasta with pesto when we were in Genoa many years ago, great beans and steamed potatoes were served as an integral part of the dish. While I’ve never done that at home it did give me the inspiration to dress potato salad and cooked green beans pesto.

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    • Liguria is on the upper west coast, if my memory serves me correctly. It’s where cinque terra is, which you must see if you can. It’s a string of beautiful tiny villages right on the water that you can walk between.

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  4. My basil plant keeps supplied with more pesto than I can eat! I have tried it with pine nuts, with walnuts, with different cheeses…am running out of ideas! But it’s always an easy dish to pull off for improptu guests

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