Cream of Pesto

With my new timetable for school I have quite a bit of time in the week now, so I actually had three dishes cooked and prepared. I really had quite the choice about what to post today and just couldn’t make a decision so in the end I opted to go for the dish I made most recently – cream of pesto. It’s not particularly difficult; I’d say that pretty much everyone can throw together a basil pesto, but there was one problem. Basil isn’t that cheap in the winter – especially not for the quantity you’d normally need to make a pesto – and I really love pesto. It’s one of the best things imaginable with pasta and so naturally when there’s pesto to be had I do tend to apply liberal quantities to my plate!

Were it just me, that wouldn’t really be a problem, but let’s not be selfish Charlie! My son, fortunately for me, didn’t seem in the mood for pesto on this day. He kept shaking his head and saying “neh, neh” when I offered it to him, but there are other people to think about. So what does one do when you have a slightly less than ideal quantity of pesto and a number of hungry mouths to feed?

Cream of Pesto

Cream of Pesto

Yup – that’s what you do!

Well, I suppose you could just slosh in a bit of extra olive oil or up the quantity of parmesan, but that is cheating a little, don’t you think? No, a great way to both stretch out a pesto, as well as transforming it into a whole different animal is to add in some cream. Heat it through and it will take the edge off the garlic a little, as well as melt the parmesan down a bit. Cream of pesto ends up being a wonderfully rich, velvety sauce for your pasta, or gnocchi – don’t forget the gnocchi – my goodness I love that stuff!

Cream of Pesto

Speaking of gnocchi…

…it was this blog post that got me started on my little hankering for cream of pesto. Together with gnocchi, it has long been a favourite dish of mine. A restaurant in France I used to frequent served this exact combination which I always enjoyed greatly.

Nipponnin does an amazing job with hers, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to try for so long but keep putting it off. I just keep remembering the time my mother tried to make gnocchi and put them into the boiling water. A few minutes later, the lid was removed to reveal… soup… or something (sorry mum! I’m sure you’ve made it successfully since though). They’d all disintegrated in the hot water, and I know from my own experience that this can happen to anyone. I too tried to make a Swedish potato dumpling and the darn thing fell apart in the water as well. I was going to post about it, and this was about 3 years ago! I still have the draft sitting in my list of pending posts. Unloved and unfinished, but there it sits, mocking me every time I log in to my site. Have you ever had any disasters with things falling apart? My first attempt at falafel did the same thing too, many moons ago!

Cream of Pesto

So no, I did not make the gnocchi, but I made the cream of pesto, and you should too, because it’s great! I used my base pesto recipe which is here. Excuse the photo if you check it out – that was back in 2011 and my goodness it looks bad! Have a wonderful day everyone and I’ll be back again soon!

Cream of Pesto
Serves 4
A wonderfully smooth, velvety sauce - cream of pesto is a great way to stretch out a pesto sauce and make it go that little but further.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
  1. 2 large handfuls of fresh Basil
  2. 80g Pine Nuts
  3. 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  4. 75g Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  5. 80ml Olive Oil
  6. Salt
  7. Freshly-ground Black Pepper
  8. 150ml Whipping Cream
  1. Start off by placing the basil, pine nuts, minced garlic and grated parmesan cheese into a food processor. Blitz while pouring in the olive oil until you've got a rich, fragrant paste.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and then transfer to a pan.
  3. Pour in the cream and mix well and heat through on the stove. Serve with your pasta (or gnocchi) of choice!
  1. You can make this the traditional way in a pestle and mortar, but I prefer to use a food processor simply for speed and convenience.
Five Euro Food


  1. says

    wow you’re an organised one! I’m always amazed at how you manage to do it amidst your crazy schedule, and heck, even when you’re moving all the way to a new country! Love the cream of pesto, how brilliant to combine a yummy classic pesto with the richness of cream. This will go so good with pasta for a simple weeknight dinner!

    • says

      Thanks Shu, I wasn’t going to post this originally, but once I’d made it I thought – well, why not? It’s an easy-win for a new post and it ended up looking pretty too!

    • says

      Hi Sharyn, I have a real weakness for cream. I have a bad habit of eating (drinking?) a spoonful each time I use it (thankfully not too often) because it’s just so darn good. I could totally drink a glass of it if I knew it wasn’t so unhealthy! 😀

  2. says

    I love freshly made pesto but don’t want to pay fresh basil prices in February so your dish is a good compromise. I also make a pesto that’s half basil and half flat Italian parsley to economize. It’s pretty good.

    I’ve been meaning to make fresh pasta and gnocchi at some point but I just haven’t had the energy on the weekends for such an endeavour.

    Especially since we always seem to get snow on the weekends and after shovelling (as I did this afternoon) I can barely put one foot in front of the other to come back into the house. Forget climbing the steps and then having to bend over to unzip and remove my boots.

    • says

      Good call on the mix of parsley. I made one from carrot greens a long time ago. It’s linked at the bottom of the post. Of course, it looks dreadful because it was back in the days when I knew nothing at all about food photography. I’m still not perfect, but at least the photos are better than they were! :D. It was good though… recommend it if you ever have carrots with the greens still on. Don’t eat it too often though. I heard that there’s something in carrot greens which can be toxic in large quantities (although a few heads-worth once in a while is harmless).

  3. says

    Gosh, it’s been such a long time since I’ve had a pesto cream sauce. I had it once poured over sea bass cooked in parchment with tomato, fennel and olives…wow. And over this gnocchi, double wow. Now I’m craving some and what a great tip to stretch pesto that way. Wonder if you can freeze it well with the cream in it?

    • says

      Ooh, sea bass… I haven’t had that in AGES! With a pesto sauce too… yum! I should think it freezes fine – since it will be heated through again, the cream shouldn’t suffer that much.

  4. says

    I love pesto and your pesto has a beautiful colour and looks delicious. I can imagine it being very aromatic. I’m sorry not everyone appreciated it as pesto sure is one of my most favourite meals xx

  5. says

    A very original idea! I have never thought of “stretching” pesto with cream. Strangely I don’t see the difference in basil prices but it becomes simply a bit more difficult to get in winter. Until December I had a jar of basil inside in a pot, but it finally died… I must buy a new one: it’s the wisest idea if one uses a lot of pesto.
    I know what you mean about falafels… I always make sure I shape them while squeezing hard all the “juices” out and my balls are always round, never flat.
    I have only made Polish “gnocchi” (they are similar but aren’t called gnocchi) and they are also quite delicate… Experience is the key but also a good recipe with good tips.

    • says

      Hi Sissi, I must admit, there’s no difficulty finding it here, although I suspect you might be talking about availability at markets. Sadly I have no such option and am limited to supermarkets. Markets up in the north are, unfortunately, a thing of the past. Maybe I should make that my mission – to reintroduce a locally sourced market to the town!

  6. says

    Basil pesto is hands-down Mr.N’s favorite way to eat pasta or flat bread. He is a pesto fiend. I have no doubt he would absolutely love this dish. (Miss A might be more in William’s camp – depending on the day of course!) This would be a good meal for us right now too. Mr. N just had a bunch of orthodontics done in his mouth, so he has this metal contraption which makes it hard to eat anything other than soft food. Fortunately it’s getting easier each day, but hard foods are off limits for a while. This will make him happy though. :)

    • says

      I’m always disappointed when I go to restaurants and eat pesto. The amount of pesto they serve with the pasta is *miniscule*. Perhaps you are actually just supposed to eat a small-ish amount, but when I’m home I ladle it on like it’s tomato sauce!

      Hope Mr N is feeling ok… does he have to keep the metal thing on for long?

      • says

        He’s doing well. Thanks for asking. He’ll be actively expanding the jaw for a month (with a slow turn of a “key”). Then it stays on for 4 to 6 months. They may do a few braces on the top teeth during that time too. Such fun.

        And I’m with you- the more pesto the better!

  7. Charlie says

    Charles, Charles, Charles *sigh*

    Here I am trying to keep my weight down, and you come along with a recipe that I can’t turn away from.

    Seriously my friend, this sounds so delicious that I have to make it.

    I too am a pesto fan.

    Having it with gnocchi is just about perfection.

    How is that little guy of yours? How old is he now? He looks absolutely adorable in the pic, and oh so huggable.

    Hope you and the wife are fine.

    When did you move to Scandinavia? I though you were in France.

    Have a Joyful Day :~D

    • says

      Hehe, thanks Charlie :)

      My son is 1.5 years now… where did the months go, is what I wonder! We moved to Sweden at the beginning of last November. We were in France, indeed, but it was time to move on. Quit our jobs and made the big move. Time to start the next phase of our lives we thought.

      Having fun so far, even if it is a bit “chilly” sometimes :D.

      • Charlie says

        The months go way to fast! In the blink of an eye.

        So how do you like having 24 hour darkness?

        I live in Canada, and given the choice I would rather live somewhere warm all year round.

        But then again not. Given the choice I would be living in England. I have extended family there and I really love it.
        When my husband and I were there years ago, he told me I he had never seen me fit in so good anywhere. I was like I had come home.

        Have a Joyful Day :~D

        • says

          Pah, I wouldn’t live in England if you paid me! Well, maybe if I was paid a *lot*, and I didn’t have to stay for too long. I feel much more at home abroad now :)

  8. says

    Gorgeous – anything with cream in ticks my boxes and it’s a great reminder for me to use up some of the pesto I amde this summer and ot make some gnocchi! Loved that link to the gnocchi and really fancied those fried ones :)

  9. says

    This looks mighty fine to me. Beautiful pics and your son sounds really cute. Love it!

    I couldn’t use internet (plus television and home phone)for 4 days! It was awful! I’m glad to able to see your new post! My husband made me your carrot bread the other day. It was wonderful! Thank you!

    • says

      Thanks Nipponnin – it was you who started my big urge after your recent post. I saw it and just thought “I have to have gnocchi NOW!”, haha.

      Glad you enjoyed the bread!

  10. says

    What a clever idea Charles and the small amount of cream per serving is well worth the calories! Gnocchi is definitely one of our favourite dishes and having it with pesto cream looks and sounds incredible. I first learned how to make gnocchi from a very early Food Network show called Biba’s Italian Kitchen and she made it without eggs! We got very good at making it too! We have quite a few green grocers in Bloor West and a few of them sell a healthy bunch of basil at a very good price, even in the winter! I suspect it is grown in a local green house.
    You can also try arugula pesto which I had to resort to because I was too late for my grocer on the night I wanted to make a pesto base for a pizza (by the way, incredibly good!). Are your pine nuts from China? It seems that the majority of our pine nuts unfortunately come from China.

    • says

      Hi Eva, did you ever post a gnocchi recipe? I’d love to see it if you have. I want to try my own. It’s outrageously expensive here (in the end I was able to find some a bit cheaper, but still, not that cheap, considering what it is!)

      I never tried rocket (arugula) pesto either… would it not be a bit bitter? I guess it depends on how young the leaves are that you use.

      As for the pine nuts – I think they come from Turkey, but I can’t be sure. I’ll check next time. What’s wrong with them coming from China?

  11. says

    Interesting… many people substitute almond for pine nuts because pine nuts are notoriously the most expensive ingredient in pesto — is it different in Europe/Sweden? Basil, even in the darkest months at home, was never that expensive (lackluster yes, expensive, not really). In any event, cream sounds like a delicious ways to stretch out a pesto to me. I don’t eat much in the way of pasta these days but I do love a good pesto and I have a feeling this one is on the dreamy side. Too bad William wasn’t in the mood — sounds like he missed out on something I’d be quite happen to sample ;-). Also…, I have to say, very envious (downright jealous?) that you had 3 dishes to choose from for this week’s post!!! I generally go week to week and even that’s a stretch some weeks. Would love to feel caught up a little… Happy to hear that school is affording you a little bit of flexibility. Great looking gnocchi Charles.

    • says

      Hi Kelly! Oh, for sure, pine nuts aren’t cheap, but the small amount used in a small pesto isn’t too bad. You can keep the cost under €5, so I needn’t feel bad about betraying my site name, but I agree – substitutions could be made. I might use walnuts… they seem more oily than almonds and more closely matching the consistency of pine nuts, but I could be wrong.

  12. says

    Perfect timing on this post Charles! I don’t have fresh basil, but I just found a big bag of frozen basil cubes in the freezer from this fall. I was wondering what I could do with them all. Love the “cream of basil”. Perfect for any type of pasta. Your is beautiful! Thanks!

  13. says

    I saw Akemi’s post too, and I ended up ordering gnocchi at the restaurant we went to a few days later. I guess her picture/post made everyone crave gnocchi!! And now you’re convincing us. Looks so delicious. I love pesto too and my kids love it in pasta, sandwich, pizza, anything. :) I guess it’s time to make gnocchi from scratch…

  14. says

    Yes, cream and pasta with the pesto would make it the ultimate comfort food. I love that style of meal in winter, thankfully we are in a warm climate so we have pesto all year round :)

    • says

      Ha, lucky you! But then if you’re in a warm climate you can’t fully appreciate how comforting a nice warm dish is when it’s freezing cold outside. I think I might choose ready access to basil though sometimes…! 😀

  15. says

    Hmmm…if you could fail, I’m not too sure of my own attempts…LOL!
    You’re such an amazing dad and cook, and I don’t think I have tried this before, but this cream of pesto sounds like such a great option for a meal =)

    • says

      Meh, I dunno… it just seems so insular. I think there’s something about living on a small island… it does change people I think. I never really considered Europe as an important thing when I lived in England because I just felt safe and surrounded by my English countryside. It’s a beautiful country in places though… I’d be sad if I could never visit it of course though!

    • says

      BTW, I tried to contact you via with your “Contact Me” link but didn’t work. It keeps saying that I did wrong capcha, which I am sure I put the right number. What should I do? I have some questions to ask you.

    • says

      Thanks so much for stopping by Holly. Eating this always makes me think of when I used to live in France. There was a pasta place near my office which served this and it was so nice to go there in the winter and eat a big pot of it!

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