Stir & Sip‘s Stacia: Pesto was typically a weekend treat at my house growing up. To this day, the smell of fresh basil brings back memories of home. My family always made their own sauces. My nonno had basil plants in his garden, and he and I would venture to the garden and pick basil leaves for his pesto. Cooking with my grandparents was always a process, which made it that much more meaningful.

Tomato salads were also a staple that accompanied any pasta dish. My nonno grew some
amazing tomatoes. We always picked them fresh. He would cut them up, drizzle them
with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Delizioso! 

Enjoy my nonno‘s Creamy Pesto Pasta. Buon appetito a tutti! Salute! :)

Stir & Sip’s Stacia’s Nonno’s Creamy Pesto Pasta

Serves: 4 large (full plate) servings

Note: A food processor or a blender is necessary for this recipe.


  • 1 lb pasta (rigatoni is my favorite)
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt (plus extra for the pasta water)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup pasta water (remove the water once the pasta is al dente)


  1. Put a pot of water on the stove top and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, put the basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper in the food processor. Puree the ingredients. The sauce will be fairly thick.
  3. Once the pasta water has come to a boil, add a handful of sea salt (don’t forget to salt the water!). Add the pasta and allow it to cook until it is al dente (roughly 10-12 minutes).
  4. Prior to straining the pasta, remove a cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  5. Strain the pasta. Immediately put the pasta back in the pot (never wash pasta, as you want your pasta to remain sticky).
  6. Pour the cup of pasta water in the food processor and quickly blend the sauce. Add 1/2 the cup of Parmesan cheese and quickly blend again.
  7. Pour the Creamy Pesto directly on your pasta and stir until all of the pasta is covered with pesto. A huge mistake in American kitchens is serving sauce on the side. Your pasta is an apparatus for eating your sauce. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan as desired. Feel free to slice up some fresh, ripe tomatoes for a simple, refreshing tomato salad on the side, just like my nonno used to do. Buon Appetito! :)


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