Creamy Pesto Pasta

I am all for flavor packed dishes. They’re even better when their easy & full of flavor. This recipe is one I’ve been working on for a while and I think it’s ready to share. Pesto is one of my favorite flavor combinations – herbs, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese – yum! I love the Penne Basilica at Buca di Beppo – and this is my version.

It took me a while to find the perfect AND easy creamy element – I tried sour cream, thinned cream cheese, heavy cream…each had their own ups but also just as many downsides. And then…I found it! Philadelphia Cooking Creme. They have a few different flavors – so far I’ve tried the Santa Fe Blend and the Original flavors. It has all of the benefits of sour cream, but you don’t have to worry about it doing strange things when you heat it.

This recipe is also very customizable! You can change the veggies, add no veggies, add chicken or even sausage. It can be a main course or a side dish. You could even make your own pesto or use a different flavor pesto – red pepper would be lovely!

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb. pasta w/ ridges – I used farfalle
  • 1 pkg frozen broccoli
  • 1 tub Philly Cooking Creme – original flavor
  • 1 tub pesto – I used Buitoni Basil Pesto
  • 1/2 c shredded asiago cheese

Yes, that’s it! I told you this was easy.

Start your pot of boiling water. Once it’s boiling, add a good amount of salt and stir in your pasta. Cook to al dente per the package instructions.

Meanwhile, cook your veggies and/or meats and set aside. I used a bag of frozen broccoli and cooked it for about a minute shy of the instructions on the steamer bag.

Grate your cheese (this is the most difficult part). Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and add your veggies and other mix-ins. For even less dishes, mix it in the bowl you are using to serve. You can even make this a night or two in advance. When the pasta has about 2 minutes left, stick your sauce in the microwave for about 2 minutes. You want to reheat the sauce just enough to where it doesn’t cool down the pasta and helps everything combine.

This is the reason I love the farfalle pasta. Other than the fun bow tie shape, you can see it catches the cooking water and will do the same for the sauce.

Once your pasta is done cooking, drain or use your handy dandy strainer with a handle – I love this kitchen gadget. You can use it to drain canned beans, rinse veggies, or grab the cooked pasta right out of the water. If you’ve ever had to thin out a sauce and forgotten to grab some of the starchy cooking water, this is your new best friend!

Add the pasta into your sauce and stir. Voila! Dinner is served. Add more asiago on top if you so desire.

Buon appetito!

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