Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dinner in 30 minutes: How to make a terrific creamy pesto sauce for pasta

The other day I posted the picture to the right on Instagram. I got a great response from people, so I told folks I would post the sauce recipe here for everyone to enjoy. This meal takes about 30 minutes to cook and will certainly satisfy.

A few key points to consider before you start the sauce:

1 - Sure, you can make your own pesto at home, if you want. But if you don't want to go through that effort, head over to World Market and buy Cucina and Amore pesto. You will save a ton of time and it works as a terrific base to make a creamy pesto sauce.

2 - Horizon Organic or Organic Valley are my favorites for making great cream sauces. No matter what you use, please don't get that weak fat free half and half. That will make your cream sauce awful.

3 - Get yourself a mandolin slicer so you can get even cuts on your veggies. Un-even cuts make for the food cooking too much or too little and that will also make your sauce suck.

Now that we have all of that out of the way, here is the recipe:

Bill and Jeney's 30 minute Creamy Pesto Pasta

1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground peppercorn blend
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced onions
4 cloves of garlic, diced in to 1/8 inch cubes
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 stick of cooled butter (1/4 cup), cut into two equal pieces (1/8 cup each)
1/2 cup of Horizon Organic half and half (or similar product)
1/2 cup of good chardonnay (don't EVER cook with wine you wouldn't drink)
1 jar of Cucina and Amore Pesto (or other similar 6-8oz jar of pesto)

In a separate pot on the stove, start boiling salted water in preparation for whatever type of pasta you will be using. I like cheese tortellini, gnocchi or penne style pastas for this sauce. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, toss with 1 tsp of olive oil so it doesn't stick and set aside until the sauce is finished.

Using the aforementioned mandolin slicer, cut carrots, celery and onions - all on the 'thin' setting. Place them in a bowl. Put the chopped garlic and one of the two pieces of butter in a small bowl and put the pesto in a bowl with the other piece of butter.

Get a 12 inch skillet going with med-high heat. Once the pan is at temperature, put the oil in the pan an make sure it has a light coat of olive oil at the bottom. Wait about 10 seconds and then add the carrot/celery/onion mixture. Add the salt and pepper, stir to make sure the salt and pepper is evenly distributed and let this cook for about 4 minutes; until the onions and celery are translucent and soft. Deglaze the pan with the 1/2 cup of wine, making sure to cook the wine down until you don't smell the alcohol anymore (2-3 min).

Once the wine is cooked down a bit, add the butter and garlic bowl to the pan and stir the mixture. Lower the temperature to medium and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, making sure the butter has melted.

Now add the pesto/butter bowl, stir and lower the temperature to med-low, simmering for about 3 minutes, then add the half and half slowly while stirring/whisking the sauce. Once all the half and half is stirred in, immediately turn the temp to low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring gently. Add the pre-cooked pasta to the sauce and stir gently, making sure to get all the pasta coated. Simmer for about 3 minutes and then serve.