Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

pasta-cilantro-pesto
Weeknight pasta dinners can get a tad boring if you use the same sauce recipes. So to stir things up a little, I decided to experiment with some flavors, which brought up the idea of using cilantro as a base for my pesto-cream sauce instead of basil. Garlic and Cilantro make a great flavor combination, and though I was a little hesitant in how they would blend with the creamy white sauce, I am happy I tried this unique combination, because it sure turned out great! Touched with a hint of oregano, basil flakes, mixed italian herbs and parmesan cheese, this Pasta with creamy Cilantro Pesto Sauce is indeed a must try!

Ingredients
1 regular-sized package pasta noodles
2 tbsp onions - sliced finely (optional)
2 tbsp bell peppers - sliced finely (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil

Cilantro Cream Sauce
1/4 cup packed cilantro - chopped
1/2 green chilli - chopped
2 garlic cloves - minced
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp basil flakes (or fresh basil recommended)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup whipping cream (or heavy milk)
2 tbsp refined flour (maida)
salt & pepper - to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Method
Boil the pasta as directed on the package. Once cooked, drain the water in a colander, set the pasta under cold running water, then add 1 tbsp oil to them to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Making the Sauce
Take the chopped cilantro, green chillies, garlic cloves and salt/pepper and blend them to make a smooth paste(pesto). Add 1 tsp oil to make it smooth, but do NOT add water.

In a deep pan, melt the butter, then add the refined flour to this and roast for 30-40 sec on a low flame. As soon as the flour starts clumping, add the cream or milk, and stir well to form a smooth paste. Cook on low-to-medium flame; add the parmesan cheese, basil and oregano flakes, and keep stirring continuously till the sauce becomes thick and creamy.

Slowly add the cilantro pesto paste to the sauce mixture. Lower the flame, then stir the sauce till everything becomes mixed and smooth. You can add 2 tbsp more milk if you want a thinner consistency. Check for taste and add more seasoning if needed. Let it boil for 2 more mins, then switch off the flame and set it aside.

Take a wok, add 1 tbsp olive oil, and lightly saute the sliced onions and bell-peppers till they become slightly soft. Now add the boiled noodles to this and mix.

Before serving, add a spoonful of the creamy cilantro sauce over the noodles. Garnish with some freshly chopped basil or herbs if you like, and enjoy with a serving of my classic homemade Caprese-style Garlic Bread!

Related Recipes
Spinach Pasta with Roasted Garlic & Sun-dried Tomato Sauce
Cheese Ravioli with Tomato-Basil & Cream Sauce
Fettucini with Almond Pesto

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