Tips and Tricks
What’s the best shape of pasta to use? This is a personal preference and I often use whatever is on hand. However, because the sauce is creamy and delicious, I use pasta that has a lot of surface area (like rotini) or is in a tube shape (like penne) so that you can get as much of the sauce as possible in each bite.
What can you serve with this creamy pesto and goat cheese pasta? This pasta would go great with an easy side salad or some roasted vegetables. A lot of times I just eat a bowl of this with a piece of fruit.
How do you reheat this creamy goat cheese pasta? If you’re planning on reheating this pasta, I’d add in a little more pesto and a tablespoon or so of pasta water before storing it in the fridge. That way, when you reheat it, you can stir in the liquid and it won’t be too dry.
What kind of pesto do you use? I can’t keep basil alive to save my life, so I never have excess and therefore never make my own pesto. If you want to make your own pesto because you don’t have a black thumb, I recommend using this recipe, from Sustainable Cooks. If you’re lazy like me, you can buy it. It’s usually in the same aisle as the tomato sauce. I buy the Classico Traditional Pesto in a small jar and use about half of it.
Why do you save pasta water? When you boil pasta, starch gets released into the water, resulting in a great way to make a thicker sauce. Pasta water is used to make the creamy sauce because iIt is a natural emulsifier that binds together the cheese and pesto to make the creamy sauce without adding any cream. I use a heat proof measuring cup to scoop out ½ cup of pasta water right before the pasta is done cooking so I don’t forget.
How do you make creamy pesto and goat cheese pasta? Start by cooking the pasta in salted water according to the instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add goat cheese crumbles and pesto into a large mixing bowl (larger than you think you’ll need). Drain the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes and chop into bite sized pieces. Set aside. Before the pasta is done, reserve at least ½ cup of the pasta water in a large measuring cup. Using a spider, scoop hot pasta out of the boiling water and put directly into the large mixing bowl. Stir immediately to melt goat cheese and mix with pesto. Add one to two tablespoons of pasta water and continue to stir. Next, add in sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. Continue to stir until the sauce is creamy. If it is too dry, add one more tablespoon of pasta water and keep stirring. Portion out pasta and top with grated parmigiano reggiano.
How do you make the creamy sauce? It’s really easy. You basically are just melting the cheese (with hot pasta), mixing in pesto and making it the right consistency with pasta water. No roux or bechamel needed. I tried to avoid those methods because they can be finicky and break when reheated. This is a very easy dish but results in an extremely flavorful finished pasta.
How much pasta water do you add? This depends on how creamy you want you sauce.It is important to add pasta water slowly and only a little at a time so you don’t make it too watery. I start with one or two tablespoons and start mixing. If the pasta looks too dry, add a tablespoon and keep stirring. If the pasta is too watery, keep stirring, it will emulsify. If not, add more cheese.
Ingredients - Goat Cheese
How do you store goat cheese? Fresh goat cheese or chevre is best stored in the fridge in an airtight container once opened. I wrap mine in plastic wrap to prevent spoilage and try to use it within two weeks. This is a semi soft and fresh cheese so it will not last as long as parmigiano reggiano or other dry and aged cheeses.
What are some other uses for goat cheese? I like to add goat cheese to sandwiches as a spread or onto salad. I like it baked onto pizza with pesto, eggplant and spinach. Goat cheese is perfect in this Asparagus and Goat Cheese Savory Galette as well, which can be served as an appetizer for brunch.
What kind of goat cheese do you buy? Make sure that the goat cheese is soft and spreadable, otherwise it won’t melt correctly. It may also be called “chevre” which is the French term. My favorite brand is Vermont Creamery and it comes in a small log about 4 oz in size and is in the speciality cheese area.
Can you substitute other cheeses in this dish? I wouldn’t because the goat cheese gives a specific tang and creaminess to the dish. It also melts very easily because it is a spreadable and soft cheese. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, I’d recommend looking at another pesto pasta recipe. You can of course leave off the parmigiano reggiano if you don’t have it.
Can you add chicken or other meat to this dish? Yes, but make sure it is cooked before you add it to the pasta. Chicken, chicken or tofu would be great additions to this recipe.
Can you add other veggies into this? Yes, just make sure that any vegetables are already cooked. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions or mushrooms would all be delicious.
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Creamy Pesto and Goat Cheese Pasta
- 8 oz dry pasta
- 2 oz goat cheese chevre
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 cup marinated artichokes chopped
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano freshly grated
- Cook the pasta in salted water per instructions on the package to al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, add crumbled goat cheese to a large mixing bowl. Next, add pesto into the bowl.
- Drain and chop both the artichokes and the sun dried tomatoes. Set aside.
- Before draining the pasta, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
- Once it has finished cooking, drain and add the hot pasta directly into the large mixing bowl with goat cheese and pesto. Immediately toss to coat, melting the goat cheese. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and continue to toss. Add 1 tablespoon of pasta water until desired consistency.
- Toss in the artichokes and sun dried tomatoes and mix until combined.
- Divide into bowls and top with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
- Be sure to reserve some pasta water to finish the sauce.
- Already cooked protein or veggies can be added with the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes.
- To reheat, add one tablespoon of reserved pasta water and extra spoonful of pesto before storing in the fridge. When you reheat, stir it together so it isn’t dry.
Originally posted on May 29, 2019. Republished with new tips and tricks on November 19, 2019.