Creamy Pesto Pasta

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Cook/prep time: 30 minutes

Today I’m posting one of my favorite recipes, one that I’ve been eating a lot of lately – Creamy Pesto Pasta. It’s one that gets you by in a pinch because no meat is required. Should you find yourself in a state of baconless despair, simply skip that step! And that’s what I have done on many Friday nights when the pantry and fridge are pretty much empty and I’m staring at my garden and freezer for ideas!

This recipe has become a staple also because it’s super easy and makes for a healthy meal when paired with whole wheat pasta and fresh tomatoes. If you make the pesto ahead or already have some in hand, this dish can be made in a matter of minutes. I love these kinds of dishes because let’s face it, on Friday night I just want to relax on the couch with a glass of wine or a chocolate bar (or both). No one – not even this kitchen enthusiast – wants to be stuck in the kitchen embarking on the latest culinary adventure. That’s what Sundays are for!

Ingredients

For the pesto:
3-4 garlic gloves (use less if you don’t like your pesto garlicky and spicy)
1/4 C walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 C packed basil
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

For the rest:
12 oz whole wheat pasta shells
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 slices of bacon
1/2 C peas
1.5 C cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 C milk
1/4 C parmesan cheese
Pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta shells as directed on package. When finished, drain pasta but retain the water for later use.
  2. Combine garlic, walnuts, salt, pepper, and 3 C basil in food processor. Turn processor on and mix while adding olive oil. When the mixture resembles a coarse pesto, add the last cup of basil and process for additional 30 seconds until smooth.

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3. Heat about 1 tsp olive oil in a 12″ skillet on medium setting. Add bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes, until bacon is semi-crisp. Remove from heat and drain all but 1 tsp of fat. Chop bacon into pieces.

4. Add onions, peas, and tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes (can you guess which ingredient I forgot when I photographed this recipe!?). The tomatoes should soften and wrinkle. You can add bacon back in at any point here, once you’ve chopped it up.

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5. Add pasta shells, pesto, milk, parmesan, and 1/4 c of the reserve water (if needed). Mix well. A creamy sauce should emerge after a couple of minutes. You can use more reserved water if the pesto sauce is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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This is one of those dishes that improves with age and I love eating the leftovers. So be sure to double up and enjoy creamy pesto pasta all weekend long!

Hungry for more great recipes? Explore more Lawyer in the Kitchen!

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