For many months now, my two littlest ones have been asking me “to make” California Pizza Kitchen’s (CPK) Pesto Creme Penne Pasta.
Although I’ve seen my Little Cake Boss eat it a couple of times, I never really looked at it; besides, the dimly lit interior rivals that of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. So the first time I made it, it was not what they expected; it was just plain ol’ pesto…but they ate it. They always eat what I make…when they like it.
For my Little Cake Boss’ 12th birthday earlier this month, I took her friends to CPK. This time, I looked at it real good and had a sample. Well, let me tell you – “Pesto” should not have been the first word in this dish’s culinary description. 🙂
Well, in between the birthday and the pasta, there was:
- Changing out my green lawn to a drought-tolerant yard (above),
- Trying to write a novel while investigating new facts about my Uncle Suetaro’s death in the Philippines in 1945,
- A paranoid aunt freaking out (big time) about a new cell phone she asked for,
- Big Bear Lake, and,
- A really messed up oil change at Walmart (which they promptly took care of),
but I dared to try this dish again.
I did start out with my pesto but for this attempt, I just cut down the amounts and used my Cuisinart Mini Coffee Grinder to process it.
The base was a variant of my Alfredo sauce:
- Some olive oil
- One garlic clove, pressed
- Maybe a 1/4 to a 1/3 stick butter
- About 2/3rds cup heavy cream
- Maybe two BIG tablespoons of the pesto
- Maybe a third to a half cup (?) of sun dried tomatoes
- Half cup of shredded Parmesan Reggiano
- Salt, pepper
- Penne, al dente
Heated small sauce pan, dribbled in some olive oil then quickly warmed through the pressed garlic. After maybe ten seconds (don’t want to burn the garlic), tossed in the butter until it melted, then added the cream. Brought it up to good simmer (don’t boil), stirring often. Lowered heat and continued on low simmer for ten minutes, stirring frequently.
Threw in the sun dried tomatoes and after a couple of minutes, added the pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper to taste, then poured it over the penne in a stainless steel bowl. Mixed it up then sprinkled the plated pasta with more Parmesan.
Did the kids eat it?
Did they think it was like CPK’s?
Nope. They thought it was better.
Well, actually, as their provider of food, shelter and flu shots, I encouraged them to think that.