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Old 12-29-2005, 01:14 AM   #11
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OK you guys i tried making it at home, and i followed your directions, and it tastes NOTHING like what i tasted in the restaurant. THe garlic is too strong for the sauce. I am not sure how the restaurant does it, but i am very dissapointed. I have had 3 attempts to make the sauce, and there is something missing. I tried copykat, and it didnt show any results. Has anyone been to the restaurant called NOODLES and COMPANY? It seems that it is only located in the chicago burbs area.
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Old 01-06-2006, 04:14 AM   #12
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I also have been trying to figure out the recipe for this dish.
I did a search on the net and actually came across your thread.

I love Noodles and Company, and the pesto cavatappi is my favorite dish from there. I will let you know what I come up with..

Does anyone have any suggestions on a good white wine to use with this dish?
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Old 01-06-2006, 04:48 AM   #13
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A good rule of thumb is to only cook with those that you'd drink. =)

A nice, crisp Chardonnay is usually my wine of choice when cooking a dish like this. You don't have to spend a fortune, there is decent stuff out there in the $7-$10 range.


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Old 01-06-2006, 06:09 AM   #14
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sounds to me like you used a strong raw garlic buff. try roasting the garlic before adding itn to the pesto.

i'm guessing from the description that the pasta is first tossed in the pesto, then in the mushroom/wine sauce, then finally tossed with cream and the parm.

it'll be tough to duplicate a dish if you remove a key component like parm, but you cuold add a little more salt to make up for it.
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:26 AM   #15
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Welcome to DC, Buff.

The most widely used/popular pesto sauce (IMO) is made with basil, evoo, parm, garlic, pine nuts. However, there are many variations, if you want to try something a little different. I will get back & post the link to several recipes I shared here. Meanwhile, here's a recipe that looks good to me. The yogurt may give it a creamier texture. Adding half-and half at the end is another alternative. You could experiment a bit and eliminate the chicken and squash.

Cavatappi with Fresh Herb Pesto & Chicken
  • 16 ounces Cavatappi
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil; divided
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 2 small yellow squash or zucchini, sliced in half
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
Cook cavatappi according to package directions. Place 2 tablespoons oil, yogurt, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, pepper, basil leaves and parsley leaves into a blender. Cover and blend on medium speed for about 2 minutes until almost smooth. Stop and clean the blender sides occasionally. In a 10-inch skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add chicken and brown until thoroughly cooked through. Add squash and cook until tender; about 1 minute. Add pesto mixture and tomatoes and heat through.

Servings 4
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:42 AM   #16
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Pesto-Bilities

Pesto-bilities

Toss w pasta (or lasagna), toasted pine nuts & top w crumbled Feta cheese. Stir into stews, coat meat, chicken or lamb before roasting, or stuff pesto under the skin of a chicken breast before roasting. Serve as a dip w crackers or crostini. Fold into mashed potatoes. Serve w tomato slices & Balsamic vinegar & ground pepper or in a pita pocket w your favorite fillings, i.e. chicken, fish, etc. Top a pizza w some pesto & veggies.

ARTICHOKE LEMON PESTO
The idea for this recipe is from a pesto sold @ a local market, but this version contains much more basil. Increase the lemon peel & Parmesan, if desired.

1 (12-oz) pkg frozen artichoke hearts, thawed/rinsed/well-drained
1 c packed fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, grated peel & juice
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c olive oil
3-4 tbl water
Seasoned salt & garlic pepper to taste

In food processor w metal blade, combine all ingredients. Process until finely pureed but not smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in glass or plastic container, cover & chill until serving time. Makes about 1 1/2 c.

ARTICHOKE LEMON PESTO DIP
1 c Artichoke Lemon Pesto (recipe above)
1/4 c Mayonnaise
1/2 c + 1 tbl Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together all ingredients except 1 tbl cheese until blended. Spoon into baking dish & sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake 30 mins or until cheese bakes into a golden crust. Serve w crackers.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO
1 1/2 c drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 c grated Parmesan OR Romano cheese OR a combination of the two
1/2 c packed fresh basil leaves
3 tbl toasted pine nuts OR blanched slivered toasted almonds
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 c olive oil
Salt & pepper

In food processor w metal blade, combine sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, nuts, garlic & shallot & process until chopped. Add oil & process until mixture is finely pureed, but still has some texture. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover & chill until serving. Makes about 1 1/2 c.

BASIL PESTO
2 c packed fresh basil leaves
3 tbl pine nuts, walnuts OR pistachios
2 lg cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c olive oil
3 tbl freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

In food processor w steel blade, place basil, pine nuts & garlic. Process until finely minced. Add oil & cheese & process until mixed in. Transfer to a bowl, cover & chill. Makes about 3/4 c.

DILL PESTO
Refreshes cucumbers, green beans, potato dishes, melon, yogurt dips, sauces & egg dishes.
1 1/2 c packed fresh dill leaves
1/2 c packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tbl walnuts, pistachios OR pine nuts
2 lg cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
3 tbl olive oil
2 tbl freshly grated Parmesan OR Romano cheese

In food processor w steel blade, place dill, parsley, nuts & garlic. Process until finely minced. Add oil & cheese & process until mixed in. Transfer to a bowl, cover & chill. Makes about 3/4 c.

ZUCCHINI PESTO
1 c packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 c walnuts, toasted
1-2 cloves garlic
2 med OR 3 sm zucchini, trimmed & cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 c (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 c olive oil
Seasoned salt & garlic pepper to taste

Blend basil, walnuts & garlic in food processor fitted w metal blade until finely chopped. Add zucchini, Parmesan & green onion; process until chopped. Add oil & process until mixture is finely chopped. Season to taste w salt & garlic pepper. Transfer to a glass or plastic container, cover tightly & refrigerate. Makes about 2 c.

GREEN OLIVE PESTO
1 1/2 c firmly packed drained pimiento-stuffed green olives, rinsed & well drained
1/3 c pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, cut up
1 tbl drained capers
1 c packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley OR basil leaves
3 tbl basil leaves (if using parsley)
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbl freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In food processor fitted w a metal blade, process olives, pine nuts, garlic, capers & parsley until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream & cheese; blend well. Cover & chill until serving. Makes about 1 3/4 c.

THREE-HERB PESTO
2/3 c firmly packed fresh basil leaves
2/3 c firmly packed fresh mint leaves
2/3 c firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
1/3 c pine nuts
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 lg cloves garlic, minced & mashed to a paste w 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c olive oil
1 tbl balsamic vinegar OR to taste

In blender or food processor, puree all ingredients until smooth. Add salt & pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated in a jar w a tight-fitting lid. Let pesto come to room temperature before using. Makes about 1 c.
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Old 01-12-2006, 08:31 AM   #17
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Oh my god. thank you so much mish. I will try your recipes out. Here is what i did wrong with my attempts (which i eventually figured out)

-When i go to that place, you can see the guys cooking in the back.
They spray the sautee or frying pan with some olive oil spray. THey first add the cavatappi, tomatoes, mushrooms.
-Then they add a small scoop of heavy cream and i am not sure how much white wine they add. They let it cook that for a few.
-Then they add 1-2 small scoops of the green looking pesto sauce. As soon as they add the sauce, they turn the heat off. The cook quickly tosses the cavatappi mixture in a repetatitive fashion, until all of the cavatappi is mixed in with the sauce mixture.

What I did wrong:
-I really dont think that the pesto sauce is made up of basil entirely for several reasons:

If you exclusivley add basil, the sauce becomes too strong with the basil aroma. WHen you fry the basil sauce (which includes parmasean, garlic, pine nuts) the basil leaves burn, giving this extremely bitter taste.

-The basil sauce is probably a mixture of several herbs. Basil leaves are probably in very small amounts, considering that the sauce in the dish in the restaurant does not smelll like burnt basil leaves.

-I think the key ingredients in the sauce is not actually basil, but oregeno and parsley and possibly corriander. Oregeno is known to bring out the flavors in tomato, and i think thats what it is doing. Oregeno has a mild flavor. I am not sure how parsley tastes fried, but i hope it doesnt taste bitter.

I will try that combination on my 4th attempt to make the sauce (considering that making the sauce is the most important part)
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Old 01-12-2006, 10:32 AM   #18
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Hi Buff and welcome to DC - as a fellow newbie, I think you'll find everyone here very helpful and VERY knowledgable.

On that point, if the restaurant you are going to is calling their dish "Pesto (insert pasta name here)", then it is a BASIL pesto - no other green stuff added. 99.9% of restaurants know that if they add other stuff, then the name changes as well, just like Mish showed with the variety of pesto recipes out there (by the way Mish, they all look delicious!!). Additionally, you may not be adding parm to your plated food, but it IS in there. Again, no parmesan cheese - no pesto.

Also, you shouldn't be saute'ing, frying or heating up your pesto in any other way. It is the heat of the pasta that warms this particular sauce OR the heat of the other "stuff" you might be adding, like your restaurant is doing with the cream sauce they are incorporating the pesto into. Notice they add the pesto, turn OFF the heat and "flip it around" several times - I am guessing so that it is moving and not being allowed to sit in the bottom and burn.

We love pesto and tend to be purists with our stuff (basil, evoo, splash of lemon, pine nuts, and parm) but have been known to experiment a bit. We've added sauted mushrooms and tomatoes but we've added the pesto after the pasta and "extras" were already tossed together and in my pasta bowl so it was as far away from the heat as possible.

When we are making pesto for leftover pasta (yes, I know, an oximoron!), we we will add a little warm water and a little less evoo to warm the sauce and the pasta but NEVER in a pan.

Ok, enough rambling, just wanted to add my 2 cents ... good luck!
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Old 01-12-2006, 01:52 PM   #19
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Thank you Buff & JM.

Never heard of frying pesto. I'm guessing, for restaurant purposes, the pesto may have been frozen, & added to the pan for a meltdown with the ingredients. Did come across another recipe that called for half basil leaves and half kale. Never tried kale, so can't vouch for it. Pretty sure, if you had the cream or half n half at the end, it will cut down on the basil flavor. Appreciate your question/recipe ideas/observations. Sounds like a real winner. Maybe you can slip the chef a 5, and he/she will give you the recipe. Winkee, winkee. j/k. When people really enjoy what they do, they're happy to talk about it. When I really like a dish, if I'm feeling brave, I ask to go in and thank the chef for a delicious meal.

OR -- better yet, invite the chef to this site & maybe he/she will share their recipes with us.
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Old 01-13-2006, 12:15 AM   #20
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The sauce did not appear frozen, but probably pre-made. Even if it was pre-made why does it not taste the same in my home attempts? Dont get me wrong, the basil leaves are there, but it does NOT have a strong aroma of basil at all [the way the restaurant makes it].

And as far as the green pesto sauce not being fried in the pan, it is not. However, they DO put it in the pan, and the pan is hot even after they stop cooking the cavatappi pasta, mushrooms, and tomatos..so why do the basil leaves do not get burned?

I still think that it is a mixture of several herbs. This includes basil, and also oregono to bring out the flavors of tomatoes, and probably parsley [although parsley cooked has a bitter taste as well]
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