Pesto Cavatappi awesomeness

I feel like a liar writing that, since I didn’t use Cavatappi noodles.  I really should call this post “Pesto Penne” but it just doesn’t have quite the same ring.  I would have used Cavatappi noodles had the commissary had them… I settled.

Cavatappi Pasta – 1/2 pack  (I used Penne and they were fine)
Roma Tomato – 1-2
Heavy whipping Cream – 1 1/2 tbsp (I probably used 4-5T)
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp (or more)
Parmesan Cheese – 1 tbsp Shredded (or a lot more)
Baby Mushrooms – (the more the better… are you seeing a pattern?)
Pesto – see ingredient list below or buy a jar of premade
Shrimp – 1 bag uncooked (I guess cooked would work, just don’t cook it as long… uncooked is cheaper, though)

Pesto  (***My mom used store-bought pesto and skipped this part.  I combined two recipes and made my own:)
1 pkg basil – rinsed and stems cut off (The package I used was 40g.)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/4 c. olive oil (more or less depending on the consistence you want)
3T Parmesan cheese, grated
Kosher salt to taste – about 1-2 tsp
(The original recipe I followed was on a sweet pea chef.)

Shrimp Steps:
1. Thaw.
2. Pinch tails off and discard.
3. Select a large saute pan.  Add in 2T oil and heat.  Add shrimp and cook according to the package directions. (Basically, until they’re pink… be careful that you don’t overcook.)
4. Set aside and keep warm.

Pesto Steps:
Pesto 1.  Put whole garlic cloves in food processor.  Chop up garlic just a bit.
Pesto 2.  Add in basil and process.  You may have to stop the machine frequently to scrape the edges of the bowl to get the basil back into the blade’s path.

The basil about to be pureed.

Pesto 3.  You can toast the pine nuts before you start process and add them in with the garlic in step one if you want.  I didn’t…  To toast the pine nuts, place them in a saute pan and heat until they start to brown.

Toasting the pine nuts. Takes only a few minutes.

Pesto 4.  Add pine nuts to processor.  Blend.

Add the toasted pine nuts to the basil.

Pesto 5.  Add in Parmesan cheese.
Pesto 6.  Add in a little olive oil at a time until you get the consistency you like.

I MADE PESTO!! (I actually used this entire batch in my dish.)

Pesto Cavatappi Instructions
1.  Cook pasta according to directions.
2.  Slice tomatoes into large chunks.
3.  When the pasta is almost done, heat a deep saute pan and pour 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
4.  Add the pesto (at least 2 tbsp – you can add more if you like – I used about 4 tbsp.)

The mushrooms, tomatoes,and pesto.

5.  Slowly stir in the the drained pasta.
6.  After 1 minute add in the heavy whipping cream. Let the liquid reduce in the pan for about 1 to 2 minutes.
7.  Add in shrimp.
8.  Remove from heat. Serve immediately.
9.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.  A lot of Parmesan cheese.

Final product. Sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese and you're good to go!

My kids thought this was the best meal ever.  They each went back for more.  My husband said this was better than the store’s version.  Some comments I heard:

“This was worth missing “Star Wars the Clone Wars” for!”  “You could open a restaurant!”  “This is awesome!”

I have to give my mom credit for finding the Cavatappi recipe online.  YUMMY!!  One additional trick:  if you want to heat up more later, put it back in a saute dish, add a little more heavy cream and heat.  It will heat up as fresh as the first batch.

Bailey ate all of his and went back for more... and had an additional Roma tomato.


I have made this several times since this post was written and have found that the following more closely resembles my version of the recipe:

Either way you’ll end up with about the same dish, just adjust what you like/don’t like about it.  (I find that I rarely make this salty enough while cooking but that’s fine.  I add salt and parmesan cheese at the table, while the boys eat it straight up.)

Here’s the newer version:

Pesto Cavatappi; serve with French baguette

Ingredients for Pasta:
Cavatappi Pasta – 1 package {or other noodles (penne)}
Roma Tomato – 1 package
Heavy whipping Cream – ½ cup
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Parmesan Cheese – 1 tbsp Shredded
Baby Mushrooms – the more the better :o)

Ingredients for Pesto  (You can use store-bought pesto and skip this part but I always make it fresh)
Basil Leaves – 1 cup (I package from Commissary)
Garlic – 3 to 4
Whole Pepper – 5 to 6 (I use the kind you grind as you use)
Pine nuts – 1 package, toasted
Salt – to taste
Parmesan cheese – ¼ c grated (less or more… however much you like)
Olive oil – 4 tbsp – or to desired consistency.


Prep Work:
1.  Thaw shrimp in cold water and when thawed enough, remove tails.
2.  Place entire bag of pine nuts in a small sauté dish and put on med-high heat.  Toast until they are lightly browned.
3.  Slice Roma Tomatoes and Mushrooms into quarters (I remove stem of mushroom first but that isn’t necessary)
4.  Peel garlic.
5.  Shred 1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
6.  Chop thick stems off of basil leaves.

Now the cooking can begin:
A.  Set water to boil and when rolling, add noodles.
B.  In food processor, pulse garlic plus a bit of salt.
Add in pine nuts and pulse.
Add in olive oil and pulse.
Add in salt, pepper, and ¼ c parmesan cheese, and pulse.
Add basil and pulse.
Add olive oil until you get the desired consistence and pulse.  Remember that the consistency in this stage isn’t really that important because you’re about to add this entire batch of Pesto to the main dish.
C.  Sauté shrimp in some olive oil in large skillet until pink.  Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside until needed.
D.  Sauté tomatoes and mushrooms in olive oil.  About 4-5 minutes.  Add oil as needed during sautéing.
E.  Add in pesto and mix well.
F.  Add in whipping cream and mix well.
G.  Add in shrimp and drained noodles.
Serve immediately with a French baguette.
Top with Grated Cheese.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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4 Responses to Pesto Cavatappi awesomeness

  1. Pingback: A Viking Date Night | thehamricks

  2. Pingback: Pesto Perfection | thehamricks

  3. Monica (Kelly's mom) says:

    OMG…….Kelly just made this for us last night and it was sooooooo delicious!!!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe with her!!!! I’ll be making it in the future for company!!!!!

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