Creamy Pesto Sauce

Thursday afternoon: I have some really good spinach and ricotta ravioli from Costco that I need a sauce for.  I have paired it with just your regular tomato pasta sauce in the past, but it just never seems to do it justice.  I need something more.  So after much thinking, I realize that what I really need is a creamy pesto sauce.  The pesto will balance out the cheese and spinach nicely and cream sauces are always nice on ravioli.  I get online and start going through my favorite recipe sites (epicurious.com, allrecipes.com, weightwatchers.com).  However, none of them yield what I am looking for and I start trying to google it.  Again nothing comes up.  Then the phone rings, it is my lovely husband suggesting that perhaps we should eat out tonight and try one of the restaurants in our cute little downtown that we haven’t been to before. Saved by the phone!

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, I still have the ravioli sitting in the fridge and we need some dinner!  So I start madly thinking about how I could come up with my own creamy pesto sauce.  I have a basic cream sauce that I use, I wonder if……maybe if I combined the cream sauce with part of the pesto recipe I could have my very own creamy pesto sauce?  Maybe if I didn’t put in much oil at all, but instead just put basil, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts into the cuisinart with just a splash of olive oil.  Would that make enough of a paste to stir into the cream sauce?

There was only one way to find out – I needed to try it.  So I set to work.  I sent my husband out to get some basil from our basil plants and to peel some garlic.  Then I set to work on the cream sauce. I put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and then started collecting ingredients for the pesto part of the sauce.  I got out the cuisinart and put in the washed basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil.  Then I ground it up into a paste.  By this time the sauce was nicely thickened and I added the pesto to the cream sauce and stirred everything together well.  I tasted it and it was almost exactly what I was looking for, except it needed a wee bit of salt.  So in went the salt and then I poured it over the ravioli and it was delicious!

So to add to the lack of creamy pesto recipes out there, here is what I did exactly.  I will warn you, I didn’t measure out most of these ingredients, I mainly cooked it by feel and taste, but I am converting it into basically what I think I used since no one out there is capable of knowing how much my “handful” is.

Combine in a small sauce pan on medium heat:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk

Put the olive oil in first and let it warm up a bit.  Then add in the flour and mix it thoroughly into the olive oil.  Have the milk nearby and add it in as soon as the olive oil and flour are mixed together well.   Then stir the whole mixture together and let it sit on medium heat to thicken.  You can start the pesto during this time, but be sure to keep an eye on the sauce so it doesn’t burn.

Combine together in food processor:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 large cloves of garlic

By this time, the cream sauce should have thickened.  You can add more flour to it make it thicker or more milk to make it not so thick.  Add in the paste of the pesto to the cream sauce and stir.  Then add in

1 tsp. salt*

Stir it all together well and then serve. 🙂

*I prefer kosher salt or the larger crystals of sea salt as it just brings out the salty flavor better.

One thought on “Creamy Pesto Sauce

  1. Hey, thank you SO much for this cream sauce recipe. I made the cream sauce and added my cilantro pesto, which is:

    1 c packed cilantro leaves
    2 tsp honey
    1 tsp cilantro
    salt to taste
    pepper to taste
    2 tbsp lemon juice and/or lime juice
    1 tbsp olive oil

    I have approximated the amount because I do it all by hand.

    I also found that I wanted to add just a bit more flour than you called for.

    I’m adding it to a pasta with stir-fried chicken and sugar snap peas. Yum.

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