Creamy Pesto Pasta

Basil- it’s what’s for dinner!  Basil is by far my favorite herb to cook with. I love it for its fresh earthy licorice-ness. I find it has the most flavor when served raw or when added to a cooked dish at the very last minute. Heating it seems to destroy it’s flavor. And dried basil, just forget it. I usually pick up a fresh bunch of it at the grocery store, stick it in a pint glass with some water, and set it on the window sill over my kitchen sink…. then it’s at my fingertips to pluck off a couple leaves and throw them in whatever. I love adding basil to salads, sandwiches, omlettes, you name it. I had my family over for dinner a few nights ago and cooked a meal that included basil in all these courses… bruschetta and olive tapenade for appe, creamy pesto pasta for dinner, and the margherita pizza ended up being a late night snack. Dessert that night was my sister and brother-in-law’s 1 year old wedding cake but I did see a recipe by Giada De’Laurentis for Basil Cheesecake I’m dying to try…
1 lb. pasta of your choice
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, cubed
4 c. loosely packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 c. parmesean cheese
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. olive oil
Using a food processor, puree basil leaves, garlic cloves, lemon zest, and parmesean cheese. Stream in about 1/2 cup of olive oil until pesto mixture is smooth and runny. Boil pasta and drain, reserving about 1 cup of starchy pasta water. Put pasta back into pot and add pesto mixture and cream cheese. Over low heat mix until cream cheese melts and pasta is well coated, adding reserved pasta water to help it along.

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