Creamy pesto pasta – without the cream

I was thinking about where the recipes we cook come from the other day. Some are passed down through families for generations. Others we learn from friends, discover in recipe books and magazines, on TV shows or these days through the numerous websites and blogs now available to us. Others just develop from an idea. This recipe is one of the latter. I make no claims to it being a traditional pasta dish (in fact, I recall an Italian cook/chef noting at a demonstration that cream and pesto together in pasta was very wrong). However, it is a regular household favourite and wrong or not, I love it. I’ve even had an ex ask me for the recipe after we’d broken up!

The original idea came from watching an episode of Ready Steady Cook one day when I was home sick from work several years ago. One of the cooks made veal with a cream and pesto sauce and observed that the sauce was also good with pasta. I decided to give it a go and over time it developed into the dish below. The meat component depends on what I have in the fridge (or can be omitted altogether). This time I had some chorizo (I use this in it quite a lot), other times I’ve made this with leftover cooked chicken, or some pancetta or bacon. I’ve also used the same method to make a chicken and roast pumpkin pasta, but without the pesto.

I originally made this dish with cream. However, that isn’t the best for a regular weeknight dinner. I was amazed the first time I tried this with evaporated skim milk and corn flour in place of cream. The result is just as creamy and delicious. Another success in my quest to find ‘healthier’ replacements.  I haven’t made this with cream since. If you do want to make it with cream, just replace the evaporated skim milk and corn flour with about 200ml of cream. I have even made it without any milk/cream component at all, and just used some of the pasta water to create the sauce. But whichever method I use, I’m always happy with the results.Creamy pesto pasta - without the cream

Click here for the recipe