Everyone needs an easy, satisfying pasta recipe in their dinner arsenal. When the inevitable “What’s for dinner?” question comes, you can quickly respond with four delicious words: 30-Minute Creamy Pesto Pasta.
This fast, 10-ingredient recipe eases the stress of weeknight cooking as kids start heading back to school and family schedules get extra hectic. Boil noodles, add kale, blend pesto sauce and toss it all together. We promise it’s that simple.
It’s the homemade creamy pesto sauce that makes this pasta so dang good. It’s made with traditional pesto ingredients—including fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil—and is kicked up with zippy lemon and two Wisconsin cheeses, ricotta and asiago. Ricotta makes the sauce ultra light and creamy. We recommend using whole milk ricotta because it’s softer and creamier than the part-skim variety. Asiago does double duty in this recipe—it’s added to the pesto for rich, nutty flavor and atop the dish for a cheesy finish.
Of course, the key to successful weeknight meals is ensuring they’re catered to your family’s tastebuds. This pasta dish can be topped with grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein, or a hefty pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for spicy heat. Bon appetit!
4 cups (1 pound) uncooked fusilli pasta
8 ounces kale, chopped*
2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin asiago cheese, grated and divided
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper Ûakes, optional
Additional fresh basil, optional
Bring large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. During last 2 minutes of cooking, add kale and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain cooked pasta/kale and return to pot.
While pasta is cooking, combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, 1/2 cup asiago, ricotta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water to blender or food processor bowl. Blend until smooth, adding additional pasta water by the tablespoon if sauce is too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine creamy pesto sauce with pasta/kale until well-coated. To serve, top with remaining 1/2 cup asiago, crushed red pepper and additional basil, if desired.
*Suggest using curly green kale instead of Tuscan (black or Lacinato) kale.