One of my favorite indulgences to lighten up is creamy pasta sauce. After many trial runs, I’ve found that 2% milk strikes the perfect balance between rich creaminess and a lower-fat nutritional profile. If you prefer to go even lighter, 1% milk will do, but skim milk just doesn’t yield the silkiness that I seek in a creamy pasta sauce.
This recipe starts with sautéing shallot and garlic in a bit of olive oil, then whisking in flour for a healthier roux – sans butter. Reduced fat milk is whisked in until a gloriously thick consistency develops. Basil pesto is stirred in as the finishing touch to this delicious sauce. I used Buitoni Reduced Fat Pesto here, but am already anticipating making different pesto versions for this recipe (walnut and parsley comes to mind as a nice flavor combination).
I folded al dente-cooked spinach linguine into the creamy pesto sauce, but it can also be used as a layer in lasagna, a sauce for pizza bianca, or as you see fit. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, so let it rest for a little while if you plan to use it as a white pizza sauce.
Creamy Pesto Sauce
yields sauce for 3 hearty servings of pasta
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat.
- Add shallot and cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallot starts to soften, stirring often. Reduce stove heat to medium.
- Stir in garlic, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Whisk the flour into the shallot, garlic, and oil. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minute, whisking constantly, until sauce has thickened.
- Add pesto to sauce. Stir over low heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve tossed with cooked spinach linguine, or pasta of your choice, and topped with shavings of parmesan cheese.