Back home where my husband and I grew up and lived most of our lives, there is a local Italian restaurant chain. It is best known for their yummy sweet Italian bread and Gondolas. In my opinion, the bread is the best thing on the menu and I could easily eat a whole loaf. The Gondolas are simple, but since they are floating on that yummy bread, they are ok in my book too. Their other traditional pasta dishes don’t really do a lot for me. In my opinion, their red sauce lacks a little oomph, compared to my own sauce. One dish that they make that I enjoy is their pesto alfredo fettuccine. It’s as the name says, a combination of an alfredo and pesto sauce. Once I had it there, I knew I had to start making it at home. So I searched and came along a version on food.com that is pretty good. I’ve since made it enough and made a few changes to the recipe, which I always do. There’s something about basil that I just love. If they made a fresh-cut basil smelling candle, I’d probably buy it. It’s so fragrant and fresh smelling so if you are a fan of pesto, than you need to give this one a try. If you have never tasted pesto, then you may like this recipe because of the addition of the alfredo component. It adds that instant creaminess and richness to the sauce that pleases most hungry bellies. I’ve also made this pesto as a dip with toasted bread and as a sandwich spread so it’s versatile. You can easily just make the alfredo sauce if pesto is not your cup of tea, so I’ll separate it all out in my recipe below. I like to use linguine pasta with this dish. The thin noodles are more delicate and I usually prefer them over fettuccine, but that’s just me. I enjoy twirling my pasta on my fork and sopping up the sauce as I go. When I was little, my aunt Mary taught me about twirling pasta, instead of cutting up the long strands of beautiful pasta. I think of her as I twirl. You can really use any type of pasta, even penne or shells would work well and may be easier for kids.
Pesto Alfredo Pasta
Ingredients for Pesto: Makes about 1 C of Pesto
5 whole Garlic Cloves – peeled with ends cut off
1 C of fresh basil or 3-4 TBS Gourmet Garden’s Basil from the tube. I used about 3/4 of the whole tube.
1/2 C finely shredded or grated Romano Cheese or Romano Cheese Blend.
1/4 C pine nuts for pesto and 1/4 C pine nuts for garnish on Pesto Alfredo with Pasta. I find pine nuts in the baking isle at the grocery store. They have larger pricey bags in the produce area of my local store, but you really only need 1/2 C for this dish. If you cannot find pine nuts, you could substitute silvered almonds.
1/2 C Olive Oil
1 teas Kosher or Sea Salt
Pulse the Garlic Cloves, cheese, basil, and pine nuts in a food processor until combined. Slowly add in olive oil and keep processing until pesto is mixed and to the desired consistency. I don’t mind a few little bits in mine. Add salt to taste and pulse.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before eating or using in alfredo sauce. This helps to enhance the flavors in the pesto. I refrigerated mine for 2 days.
2 garlic cloves – minced fine and knife scraped with a little salt to create a paste
1/2 C butter
4 TBS flour
8 oz cream cheese. I used the 1/3 less fat kind.
1 1/2 C heavy cream
2 C milk
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Pepper – white pepper if you have it, or black pepper to taste
1 lb of pasta such as linguine or fettuccine
In a large pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add in the garlic paste you made. Sauté over low heat for a few minutes being careful not to burn the butter or garlic.
Add in 4 TBS of flour and stir to create roux. Cook the roux for a 2-3 minutes over medium – low heat.
Add in the cream cheese and continue to stir mixture for a minute then turn heat down to low.
Slowly add in the heavy cream and milk. Stir and whisk to combine and smooth out the sauce. Be sure to keep on low to prevent burning.
Add in Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer sauce on low until ready to serve.
Serve over pasta, tossed in with pasta, or combine with pesto sauce for the Pesto Alfredo sauce.
If making Pesto Alfredo, combine the pesto that you made and refrigerated into the alfredo sauce. Stir gently to mix and keep on low simmer until ready to serve. If it seems too thick, you can add a few TBS of pasta water near the end of the pasta cooking time.
Cook Pasta per package directions, drain and gently pour most of the Pesto Alfredo Sauce over the pasta, but reserve about 1 C.
Gently toss pasta and sauce together to coat.
Spoon a little more of the reserved sauce on top of pasta.
Garnish with a little parsley and pine nuts.