Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Welcome to my second blog of the Southeast Meets Western Frontier series:  "Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce".  Please forgive my picture-taking learning curve... You'll notice the ingredients are a little topsy-turvy. 

I was super-excited about this recipe because I got to use my own basil plant.  Unfortunately, while plucking basil leaves, I dislodged a spider into the nearby Parmesan cheese bowl.  The Lesson:  gardening is an outdoor sport for me.  (And while this month's edition of Women's Health Magazine says 68% of women are OK killing spiders, I still prefer oblivion to the existence of spiders.)

My Ingredients.
I used the following ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup fresh Thai Basil leaves (I imagine all basil will be delicious)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (from Morning Fresh Dairy Farms)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (from Cabot Farms)
  • 12 ounces Ronzoni Healthy Harvest 100% Whole Grain Pasta
  • 2 large red tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lb of chicken tenderloins

Step One:  Start boiling water for your pasta. 

Step Two:  Food Processor Magic
The beautiful basil mixture... and tasty, too!
I combined the washed basil leaves, 1/2 a cup of Parmesan cheese, the pine nuts, peeled garlic cloves, sea salt and black pepper in my food processor.  While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (if you have a small food processor without the opening, go ahead and add the oil along with the other ingredients).  This will make a pretty green mixture as shown above.

Step Three:  Creamy pesto sauce

The pesto sauce.
In a sauce pan, I heated the heavy cream and butter.  To that, I added the green pesto from above. I let this simmer for a 5 minutes and added the final 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Stir. (and taste for the yum-effect!)

Step Four:  Combine the pasta and pesto

The final pasta salad.
The pasta should be cooked nicely by this step.  Drain the pasta, add to your serving bowl and cover with the pesto.  Stir this mixture and add the diced tomato (I prefer big veggie chunks but feel free to make your 'diced' tomatoes smaller if you like).   

Step Five:  Add protein

My protein addition- basil chicken tenderloins.
Finally, I cooked the chicken tenderloins in water and olive oil in a pan, seasoning with basil, sea salt and black pepper. 

Step Six:  Portions

This recipe feeds 8 people easily.  I called one serving a 1/2 cup of the pasta salad and one chicken tenderloin.  This yielded a serving of:

469 calories/ 37 g carbs/ 23 g fat/ 33 g protein per serving

Without the chicken tenderloin, the nutritional information is:

369 calories/ 37 g carbs/ 23 g fat/ 11 g protein per serving

  1. I stored this in the refrigerator for one week using it for lunch each day.
  2. I paired it with a big ruby red grapefruit each day. 
  3. The hardest part of this recipe was definitely showing self-control in tasting the creamy pesto sauce... and fighting spiders  ;) 


  1. Looks tasty! I made a similar dish the other night, but used peas instead of chicken.

    1. Yum! I bet you could even make it with Edamame beans for protein, too. :)