Creamy Lemon Basil Pasta

I realized earlier this week that the packers will be here in less than 20 days to, well, pack. That means I really need to start using up all the condiments in my refrigerator that won’t travel well on a 3000+ mile journey. So for lunch today I was digging around to see what I had in there when I found a jar of basil pesto that was 3/4 full! What the what? How could this have happened? I love basil pesto like a fat kid loves cake. It usually doesn’t last more than a week in my house, at most. So how could I have forgotten all about it? Then I realized it got stuffed behind my husband’s jar of banana peppers, which I detest. Mystery solved.

Anyway, I knew what I was having for lunch as soon as I found the pesto. This pasta is nothing revolutionary but you should make it for some very good reasons. 1. It has basil pesto. 2. It’s ready in like 20 minutes, tops. 3. It has basil pesto.

P.S. Did I mention there’s basil pesto involved?

Sorry, I’ll stop now.

lemonbasilpastaThis is all you need. Well, and I think somebody famous once said all you need is love, so grab some of that too. What?

Sorry, I’ve been couped up with the crazies in the house for too long. Annnd I drank a Pepsi today for the first time in a long time.

Let’s talk about that pasta for a second, mmmk? Those are some adorable little basil, tomato, and semolina pasta nests I bought through a fundraiser awhile back. It was either these, or reindeer shaped pasta. You can use any kind of pasta you like.

DSC_8272First start boiling the water for your pasta. Unless maybe you have one of those of awesome stoves that heats water in like 90 seconds or whatever. Then you can wait a bit. And by the way, I’m coming to your house. If you have a regular stove like me, start the pasta water right away and cook the pasta according to the package directions while you’re making the sauce. Don’t forget to salt the water!

DSC_8296When the pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside. Save a cup or so of your pasta water because you might need it later. These little nests took about six minutes and yes, they came with directions on how to keep them looking like nests while they were cooking. And no, I did not follow those directions. Obviously.

basil pestoTo make the sauce, plop the entire jar (or in my case, 3/4 of a jar) of basil pesto in a skillet with deep sides. And I’m sorry, I don’t have the mad photography skillz to make pesto look sexy. Thankfully it tastes a lot better than it looks. Promise.

DSC_8249Next add a cup of cream and whisk it into the pesto. Yup, you heard me…a whole cup of heavy cream. Then fuhgettaboutit. It’s lunch time baby. You have all afternoon to work it off.

DSC_8258Then zest about a teaspoon of lemon zest and add that to the skillet.

DSC_8268And squeeze in about a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Please pretend there is a picture here of me adding some salt and pepper, because that’s what I did next. You’re a smart cookie and I’m sure you can manage that one with a visual, right? Just whisk everything together and set this on the stove over medium low heat so the sauce can get all warm and creamy, and it will thicken up a bit. Occasionally give it a stir with your whisk.

DSC_8277While the sauce is warming up, grate about half a cup of parmesan cheese! I just used the microplane because I was waaay too lazy to get out the box grater.

DSC_8284When the sauce is warmed through, pull it off the heat and stir in the cheese.

DSC_8302Then add your drained pasta to the skillet.

DSC_8311Toss the pasta so it gets coated with the creamy sauce. If you think it’s a little thick you can thin it out with some of your reserved pasta water.

DSC_8352Annnd…that’s it! The lemon adds a really nice freshness to the creamy sauce and the pesto is already packed with flavor. If you want you can top this off with some more parmesan, but basically you’re all done!


Creamy Lemon Basil Pesto Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 12oz. package of dried pasta
  • 1 8oz. jar Basil Pesto
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling if desired
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving one cup of pasta water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place basil pesto, cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a skillet with deep sides. Whisk all ingredients together.
  3. Heat on the stove over medium low, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir in the cheese off the heat and then add the drained pasta. Toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, thin it out with reserved pasta water.
  5. Top with more cheese if desired and serve.





  1. Myyyyyylanta that looks incredible! I love creamy pasta sauces with lemony zest! I just made kale pesto for the first time last week and will be using what I have left for this pasta sauce! Hope you have a great weekend!

  2. I just love this! looking good:)

  3. Wow, that looks amazing! Glad I found you on Facebook! Would love for you to join us on our Foodie Friends Friday linky party on my blog. Come on over!


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