Creamy Pesto Fettuccine is my use-up recipe for the jars of pesto I have frozen from my garden. Thaw one little green jar of pesto, mixed with cream and milk, and pasta night is ready in 15 minutes! The recipe is versatile so you can easily add extras like chopped tomato or leftover chicken.
I grow so much basil in the garden every summer, that pesto is in our weekly menu. I make tons of it and always freeze the extra in half pint jars, about 1 cup each. I’ve posted pesto recipes and always talk about how handy those little jars are to have stashed in your freezer. This 15 Minute Creamy Pesto Fettuccine is one of my favorite recipes to use that frozen pesto. It’s the perfect weeknight meal with only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes!!
How to Make Pesto for your Freezer
If you don’t already have jars of pesto in your freezer, check out these posts…
- Classic Garden Basil Pesto
- Pesto Variety Freezer Prep with Swiss Chard, Arugula, and Roasted Red Peppers
- Pesto from Salad Greens that are about to go bad
In the summer, I plant a whole pack of basil seeds in a window box and grow a ton, because I know summer basil won’t be around for long. But if summer gardening is over, don’t worry! Pesto doesn’t need to be made out of basil. In the winter you could go broke buying those little packets of basil for $3 each in order to get enough for a batch of pesto.
In the winter, take my Basil Pesto recipe and substitute any greens, like spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard, or any combination of them. You could buy one pack of basil to add in, and then stretch it with the cheaper greens. The pine nuts can also be substituted with other nuts like almonds, walnuts, or even sunflower seeds.
It’s delicious, healthy, and affordable, and you can stock your freezer with those little green jars.
What to Do with Frozen Pesto
Now that you have your freezer stocked, your jars of frozen pesto are delicious spread on sandwiches like deli turkey and cheese, or grilled chicken on Ciabatta with melty Provolone. Pesto makes a great sauce for flatbread pizzas, or can be simply spooned over grilled chicken or fish. Use it as a dip for garlic bread, or other appetizers like skewered tomato and fresh mozzarella dipped in pesto, it’s so versatile! But, always my favorite is pasta night!
How to Make Creamy Pesto Fettuccine
My favorite use up for my frozen jars of pesto is this Creamy Pesto Fettuccine. It’s the perfect weeknight pasta meal, super simple with just 1 cup (1 half pint jar) of thawed pesto, heavy cream, milk, and Parmesan cheese. You can make it a more hearty pasta dinner by adding grilled or leftover cooked chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled Italian sausages or just keep it vegetarian with chopped tomato or other veggies.
The sauce is fast and easy and can be made in the time it takes to boil the fettuccine (or sub spaghetti or linguini). When you set the water to boil, add the cream, milk and pesto to a large enough pan to toss everything together at the end, and simmer on low.
The chicken and chopped tomato are just options and can be added right away too. If you wanted to start with something like zucchini, saute that first in olive oil, then add the sauce ingredients. The sauce will reduce and thicken as the pasta cooks. When it’s done, toss it really well with tongs and Parmesan. Just 15 minutes is all it takes, and your summer pesto comes back to life!
Creamy Pesto Fettuccini
- 1 lb fettuccine pasta (or sub spaghetti or linguini)
- 1 c homemade pesto thawed overnight in the fridge
- 1 c heavy cream
- 1 c whole milk (or any milk)
- ½ c Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving
- Optional add ins - chicken, sliced Italian sausage links, grilled shrimp, 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- Set water to boil (add a pinch of salt before adding pasta) and cook pasta according to package instructions (12 minutes). BEFORE draining, scoop out a cup of the starchy cooking water (a coffee cup works great for this!) and reserve until sauce is ready. The starchy water can be used to add to the sauce if it becomes too thick.
- In the time it takes to cook the pasta, make the sauce. In a large saute pan (large enough to toss the pasta) over medium low heat, combine pesto, cream and milk and simmer to reduce for about 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking. Add optional add-ins (see notes below) to warm during this 10 minutes.
- Toss pasta well with the sauce and Parmesan cheese to coat. Add a little of the reserved starchy pasta cooking water if the dish becomes too dry. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.
- **Optional Add-Ins** Add cooked chicken, shrimp, or sliced Italian sausage to warm through in the sauce. These can be cooked separately on an outdoor grill, in a cast iron skillet, baked in the oven or leftovers work great. Add chopped tomatoes to the sauce while it simmers. If you want to add veggies that need to be cooked first, start by sautéing them in olive oil (like zucchini or bell pepper), then add pesto, cream and milk to simmer and reduce.