Looking at the abundance of green and opal basil in my garden today I remembered a cold basil cream sauce I used to make when I was a student. It was a quick and inexpensive dish (in Germany, unlike in the US, crème fraîche can be found in every supermarket, and it’s cheap). Yet the sauce tasted like gourmet food compared to the frozen pizza and other stuff on which I mostly survived.
I usually had it cold with warm pasta but it also goes well on a pasta salad, or can be served with slices of cold meat.
This is the first year I am growing opal basil so I used that but green is fine. Since I have so much of it, and it makes the sauce less rich, I use a full cup of packed basil leaves.
Cold Basil Cream Sauce
Crème fraîche is so pricey and hard to find in this country that I make my own (courtesy of Julia Child, The Way to Cook).
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup sour cream (low-fat or regular)
1 cup packed basil leaves, green or opal
¼ cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground white pepper
10 ounces farfalle or other pasta
1. Whisk the heavy cream with the sour cream in a small container. Cover and let stand on the kitchen counter away from sunlight for 1 to 2 hours until it thickens.
2. Process the basil leaves with the crème fraîche in a food processor until the basil is finely chopped. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Do not over-process, or the cream will separate. Refrigerate (the sauce thickens a bit as it stands).
3. Cook the pasta and run plenty of cold water over it to remove the starch. Drain well. Serve the warm pasta with the cold sauce. Or, for a pasta salad, let the pasta almost cool, then toss with the sauce until evenly coated, and refrigerate until serving.
Makes 4 servings