Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Via January 1989 e-mail from Pat Bullen (she brought this to a Christmas lunch potluck at work, and we all demanded the recipe)

This is a very easy, versatile recipe that can be expanded for a large party. This recipe is good with any pasta – I prefer to use fresh frozen cheese tortellini, but you could use spinach linguini, shells, or layer the sauce with lasagna noodles, or just spoon over spaghetti.

8-12 oz pasta, cooked al dente and drained
2/3 to 1 C butter, at room temperature (soft) and cut into little pieces
1/2 C heavy cream (milk or evaporated milk works okay, too)
1/4 C fresh basil, minced or 4 t dried basil (add more or less depending on your taste). To speed up the mincing process, you can add the basil to the milk and run it through a blender
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2/3 C pine nuts (pinolas)

Turn the pasta into a deep heated serving dish. Add the butter, cream, and basil and toss quickly and gently with two spoons. Season with salt and pepper to taste (caution: the cheese is salty). Ad the pine nuts and any of the optional ingredients below with the cheese and toss again. Serve immediately.

If you want to use this dish for a party (it works great with toothpicks) or at a potluck, the milk will quickly be absorbed by the cheese and the pasta will become dry. Add additional milk prior to serving and toss again to retain the creaminess.

Optional ingredients:

More garlic
1 small package fresh mushrooms, sliced and cooked in garlic and white wine
I also roast my pine nuts by coating them with olive oil; generously sprinkling garlic salt over them; and then placing them under the broiled in the oven – watching them VERY carefully. I stir them around a couple of times once they start browning. Be careful – they will burn quickly.

You could also add cooked shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, or leftover poultry.

(my note: very good with chunks of cooked turkey or chicken breast)