Recipes > Orecchiette w/ Pesto-Cream Sauce

Orecchiette W/ Pesto Cream Sauce


Orecchiette enveloped in a fresh pesto-cream sauce. Simple yet sensational.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Views: 57,540
  • Success Rating: 100% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the Pesto

Making the Pesto
  • 1/3 cup pecorino cheese
  • 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 cup packed, fresh basil leaves (approx. 2 bunches)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt (to taste)


To begin the pesto, grate each cheese and toss to combine. Using a mezzaluna knife (or a chefs knife or food processor), begin by chopping the garlic.

Add the basil in three portions, making sure to incorporate each amount before adding the next. Do the same with the pine nuts, incorporating them in two batches. Once the mixture is finely chopped, gather everything together and incorporate the cheese in two batches, finely chopping everything together. Transfer to a bowl and add the olive oil. Add enough oil until you reach the consistency you like.

Lastly, taste the pesto for seasoning. You may not have to add any salt. It will depend on how salty the cheese is.

Step 2: Making the Cream Sauce and Pasta

Making the Cream Sauce and Pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz orecchiette pasta
  • 4 to 5 tbsp pesto
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (for garnish)
  • fresh basil (for garnish)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (for garnish)


To start, bring a large pot of cold, salted water to a boil. In a large sauté pan, add the heavy cream and simmer over medium-high heat. Once the cream reduces by a about one third, begin cooking the pasta. The timing is important, because you want the pasta and the sauce to be ready at the same time. If the cream has reduced enough and the pasta is not quite finished, just set it aside.

Test the pasta and when it is about a minute or two from being done, put the cream back over medium heat. Add the pesto to the cream and stir to combine. Don’t let the sauce come to a rapid boil, or it may split and become greasy.

Just before draining the pasta, hold back one cup of the water. This will be used to help thin out the sauce, if necessary. Add the pasta to the sauce and fold everything together. If it is a bit too thick, loosen the sauce with some of the pasta water.

Check for seasoning and transfer to a serving dish. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, followed by a drizzle of quality, extra-virgin olive oil and a chiffonade of basil. Serve immediately.

Chef's Notes

You can also use a food processor to make pesto, but you may not get the same nice texture. This pesto is at its peak when fresh. Use the pesto as soon as possible, or cover it with a thin layer of olive oil and store in a sealed container for a few days in the refrigerator. You can freeze it, but it may lose some of its flavor and color.


  • Dave W
    Dave W
    Mama that's one tasty, and rich pasta dish. Fabulous!
  • Jeremy C
    Jeremy C
    I tried this sauce with the Gnocchi recipe instead of the pasta. Just after the sauce is reduced, i simply drained the Gnocchi and added it back to a clean pan for a quick dry. Then, i continued to fold in Gnocchi being sure to not cook the Gnocchi any further. Worked out tremendously!
  • Naouar E
    Naouar E
    This dish is supereasy and superdelicious. You need very few ingredients. I used store-bought pesto which tasted great. I'll be sure to try the home-made pesto which will be even better!
  • Jessica F
    Jessica F
    This pasta dish looks delicious! I would just like to know what you would suggest for a side, if any. I was thinking maybe just a nice homemade garlic bread?
  • Joe G
    Joe G
    This is not the healthiest of meals but it's delicious for sure. So you might want to run a few laps first to make some room :-). I'd serve it with a nice light salad of some fresh greens (e.g. butter lettuce and leaf), with a great extra virgin olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper and the juice from half a lemon. That's it. Garlic toast would be delicious too.
  • Natalie N
    Natalie N
    One of the ingredients is heavy cream. Whenever I come to a local supermarket I'm overwhelmed by the numerous types of cream which have different fat percentage. How heavy should a heavy cream be? 10%, 20%, 30%?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Heavy cream is one that is over 33% M.F. I agree that it can be overwhelming when you go to a supermarket as there are so many different containers and names for all of the different types of cream/milk - but if you just look for something that says it is higher than 33% M.F. you should be okay. It may also be called "whipping cream" or "heavy cream". Hope this helps!
  • Renata K
    Renata K
    Thank you so much for such a gloriously delicious recipe. I made this yesterday but used fresh linguine as the pasta and added chunk of baked salmon as well. The salmon was nice and mild so it did not take away from the sauce. Truly the best pasta I've had - thank you again!
  • Coco H
    Coco H
    Can we use cheddar? mixed with parmesan
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    You could use a bit of cheddar but just know that you will be making an a different dish. I am also not sure how good of friends cheddar and pesto are, but to each their own. Perhaps you might want to try making a more traditional cheese sauce similar to this torchiette pasta (you may just want to omit the added flavors of the beer etc.). Cheers!
  • Reuben L
    Reuben L
    Loved it, the pesto recipe I'll definititely use again. I've told my parents not to buy any more store-bought, just give me the jars and I'll top it up :) Tasted great with the Chicken Saltimbocca recipe as well, and I found putting a bit of the pesto on top of the pasta as a garnish worked great as well.
  • Leigh S
    Leigh S
    I've never been a pesto lover, but this has converted me! Absolutely phenomenal. I used all the ingredients as specified and you are correct -- the results are truly sensational! This was my first experience with homemade pesto, and it made all the difference.
  • Leigh S
    Leigh S
    Oh.. you MUST watch this video! It will add a very authentic flavour to your dish:
  • Angela M
    Angela M
    That dish is sooooo good. Everybody loved it except my oldest sister( she is kinda fussy though. Just don't tell her that !!!!!!) thanks again ROUXBE
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Oh good work! So glad it was a hit. ~Ken
  • Nisha P
    Nisha P
    Just made this and it was delicious. If I wanted to make this sauce vegan (I use a vegan pesto), what would be a good replacement for the heavy cream? Would coconut milk work or would it leave too much of a coconut flavor?
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Nisha. I am glad that you enjoyed this. You can totally adapt this to be vegan. Use the cashew béchamel in place of the cream and cheese. Here is the link: Lauren

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