This recipe if from Cooks Illustrated, if you have never picked up a copy of this little magazine before then do it this month. This magazine is a gem. I love it! They have so many great ideas and tips about different products - plus totally simple recipes. Also, this sauce doesn't save well. So use it immediately - don't try cooking ahead of time or saving the leftovers. Also, with a recipe like this, where the pasta is the star, it is usually a good idea to splurge a little and buy the fresh pasta from the grocery store rather than the dried kind from the shelves.
1 C. packed fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 C. half-and-half
1 C. low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. minced fresh basil
1 lb linguine or spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the pasta. When boiling add in 1 T. salt and the pasta, cook, stirring often until al dente. Drain - reserving 1/2 c. pasta water. Return to pot
While waiting for the water to boil: Blend the basil, half-and-half, broth, and cornstarch together in a blender until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and 1/4t. salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Briefly re-blend the half-and-half mixture to redistribute the cornstarch, then stir into saucepan and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in minced basil and salt & pepper.
Add the sauce to the pasta using pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese.