Before I took my trip to Hawaii last month, my friend talked me into doing a crazy (and by crazy I mean carb-free. Ya, cRaZy!) diet for a couple of weeks. They say taking something out of your diet will help you overcome cravings for it so eventually you won’t want that thing anymore. But every time I have tried this (carbs, sugar, you name it….) all I do is spend my days pining over the missing food item like an addict without her crack. The entire time my thoughts were consumed by things like fresh baked bread, cream-drenched fettuccine, and brown sugar on a spoon. Yes, a spoon. However, I found that dreaming about pasta brought me comfort and solace during such a troubling time so that’s when I came up with this recipe. I wrote stuff down every day when I thought about it and by the end of the 2 weeks I was pretty sure the recipe was perfected in my head and I couldn’t wait to try it out in real-life. When we got back into town this was one of the first things I made, and it was a hit. Phew. Part of me worried that it would be like an internet relationship that went terribly wrong after the first real-life meeting when you figured out the other person didn’t look at all like their profile picture. Not that I’ve experienced that, but I imagine it’s totally awkward.

This pasta looks so rich and creamy, and it is- but it’s a trick! I use myGuiltless Alfredo Sauce as a base so it’s a sneaky little not-so-bad for you sauce. Adding pesto to it adds incredible flavor. It’s topped with oven roasted tomatoes and mushrooms and sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese and buttery pinenuts. Oh and I should tell you that I don’t like mushrooms and I can’t eat a raw tomato. Seriously. But roasting these things in the oven does magical things and they turn out sooo yummy. So I challenge any mushroom-tomato haters to try this one.

It comes together pretty quickly too if you do everything in the right steps, so that’s how I’ll write the instructions. I made this a vegetarian meal, but it would be fantastic with some grilled chicken on top.

C’mon now- let’s all go eat our carbs!

Creamy Pesto Pasta

print recipe text only

1/2 batch Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
1/2 lb Farfalle/Bowtie Pasta (that’s 1/2 a 16oz box or a little over 3 cups dry pasta)
3.5 oz Pesto (that’s about 1/3 cup, or 1/2 of a 7oz container they sell in stores)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
8oz mushrooms (about 3 C sliced)
3T pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

1. Prepare your Guiltless Alfredo sauce. When it’s finished, just make sure it’s covered and set it aside.

2. Place a large stock pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.

3. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice. Place tomatoes and mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (3-4 T should do it) toss with your fingers making sure everything is coated and then lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. You can tell the tomatoes are ready when the skins start to split. Don’t overcook them or they’ll be mush!

4. When water comes to a boil add a little salt and the pasta.

5. Toast pine nuts: Place nuts in a dry skillet on med heat. Stir constantly. They will start to turn glossy which means the oils are releasing. Then they’ll start to brown. (have you checked your pasta? go check your pasta) Let them get golden brown and then remove them from the pan to cool. It should take about 7-10 minutes total.

6. Your pasta should be done, drain it if you haven’t already.

7. Add pesto to alfredo sauce and stir to combine well.

8. Tomatoes and mushrooms should be done about now, take them out of the oven.

Put it all together! Place pasta in a large bowl and combine with as much sauce as you need. Place tomatoes and mushrooms on top and sprinkle on lots of fresh parmesan cheese. Sprinkle pine nuts on top and serve.

Try it with some breadsticks or rosemary foccacia on the side!

Serves 4-6.
4 generous main dish servings and 6 we’re-having-other-stuff-with-it servings.

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