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Basil Pesto Cream with Tortellini
A fantastic dish that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
If you’re wondering what to do with all that wonderful pesto we made earlier this week, wonder no more. Make this simple, flavorful and delicious Basil Pesto Cream with Tortellini!
Last summer I attended a convention with my husband in Clearwater, Florida. At one of the banquet dinners they served a wide variety of foods with one table filled with pasta dishes. I fell in love with the pesto cream sauce ladled over tortellini which is saying a lot because I hardly ever “like” banquet food.
They had food tables positioned in the four corners of the convention hall and almost 500 people lined up to fill their plates with the huge variety. I skipped most of the food tables but did go back for seconds on the tortellini.
I’ve thought about that dish several times over the past year and finally had to make it for myself.
There is something about this recipe that I love and can’t wait to make again. Maybe it’s the fresh, bold flavor of the fresh olive oil pesto, or the salty grated Parmesan cheese that draws me in – but whatever it is, I’m smitten.
Sometimes I throw in some broccoli and make this a complete meal in a bowl. I don’t mind telling you that my version is way better than the banquet recipe!
Overview of ingredients
- unsalted butter
- basil pesto or your favorite pesto with loads of garlic either homemade or store-bought. You’ll need about 1/4 cup of pesto.
- fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- cooked cheese tortellini
- fresh steamed broccoli florets
- fresh ground black pepper
How to make Basil Pesto Cream with Tortellini
The creamy pesto sauce could not be more simple to make.
Prepare the pesto in a food processor if making homemade and steam the broccoli florets.
Next cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Set aside to drain reserving a small cup of the pasta water.
Combine the half-and-half, butter and pesto in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and whisk until melted and combined. Do not boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and season with fresh ground black pepper. Taste the sauce and add seasoning as needed. Toss the sauce with the steamed broccoli and drained tortellini. Add a splash of pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.
Serve immediately garnished with additional Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
You can use whole milk or heavy cream in place of the half-and-half. If using cream, omit the butter. If using milk, add another tablespoon of unsalted butter.
This dish is also great with other kinds of pesto. Try using walnuts in place of the pine nuts and leafy greens in place of the basil. You can use baby kale leaves or arugula too. Or try our Smoky Red Pepper Pesto on a Grilled Chicken Panini.
You can skip the broccoli all together, or add snow peas or fresh green peas if desired.
If you don’t have tortellini on hand, use your favorite pasta or some hot cooked noodles like spaghetti in a pinch.
This is also great served with grilled chicken breast for more protein.
Creamy pesto pasta is great for company or a quick weeknight meal
This is also a great dish to serve a crowd, like a banquet with 500 convention attendees. The cheesy tortellini holds up well in the sauce and soaks up the amazing pesto flavor without falling apart.
Can you tell I like this dish? I bet you will too!
Thanks for PINNING!
Basil Pesto Cream with Tortellini
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup basil pesto (Click for recipe)
- ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
- 9 ounces cooked cheese tortellini
- 2 cups steamed broccoli florets
- Fresh grated black pepper
- Cook tortellini according to package directions. Set aside to drain.
- Combine the half-and-half, butter and pesto in a large skillet. Heat until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Add ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir until melted and combined.
- Remove from the heat and season with ground pepper. Toss the sauce with the cooked broccoli and drained tortellini.
- Serve immediately garnished with additional Parmesan if desired.
- Our recipe for homemade Basil Pesto
- Whole milk or heavy cream can be substituted for the half-and-half. If using cream, omit the butter, if using milk, add another tablespoon of unsalted butter.
- Adapted from a recipe on food.com
Easy, flavorful and so delicious!
This Basil Pesto Cream with Tortellini is a delicious meal that can be on the table in under 30 minutes. Everyone enjoys the fresh bold flavor of the basil pesto and the salty fresh grated Parmesan tossed with hot cheese tortellini.
Our dish is simple, quick and utterly fantastic.
If you love basil pesto, I bet you’ll also love our Grilled Pesto Pizza. I’m a huge fan of red sauce on pizza, but this pesto pizza surprises me every time I make it.