Quick Tuscan Pasta Sauce

Raise your hand if being able to make dinner in 20 minutes fills your heart with joy? Now that the weather is {finally} warming up and we are spending more time outside remembering what fresh air feels like, dinner prep is being cut to a minimum. I love my kids. I want to serve them dinner. But generally, I refuse to be stuck inside slaving over dinner while they are outside romping freely. Granted, I’m usually planted on the porch steps holding the little one and not even coming close to romping, but I still don’t want to be inside cooking, especially since in my neck of the woods, a raging blizzard of snow and ice could still appear any minute and we have to take advantage of the warmth (i.e. above 35 degrees). Enter the season of quick meals.

Considering the fact that my children weep-in-a-good-way when I make our go-to Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce, I decided it was high time to change it up with a little variation or two. Tuscan pasta sauce it is! Which is basically a fancy and probably non-authentic way to say basil and sun-dried tomatoes have been thrown in.

Quick Tuscan Pasta Sauce

This is delicious as is, but toss a few chopped, fresh tomatoes on top and a bit of fresh basil and it is pure pasta heaven. If you are looking for more of a complete meal, we’ve added cooked chicken and it is as good or better than any sun-dried tomato sauce dish I’ve ordered at a restaurant. Admittedly that’s been a while since I live in the land-of-no-restaurants (unless you consider Subway and Pizza Ranch fine dining), but basically what I’m saying is, this pasta sauce is really delicious. And the fact that it is made from scratch and comes together in 20-minutes is like huge bonus of the year.

Quick Tuscan Pasta Sauce

One Year Ago: Brown Sugar Crackle Cookies
Two Years Ago: Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes
Three Years Ago: Honey Lime Fruit Salad

Creamy Tuscan Pasta Sauce

Yield: Serves 4-6

Creamy Tuscan Pasta Sauce

This would be delicious with grilled or cooked chicken thrown into the mix. Also, you can use lowfat cream cheese and lowfat milk; the sauce is more creamy and smooth the higher fat content you go but I usually stick with 1% milk and less fat cream cheese and we love it. If you have fresh basil, scrap the dried basil and add in about 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil at the end of cooking (or do a combination of dried and fresh for maximum basil flavor). To maximize how quickly this meal comes together, start the noodles cooking at the same time you start the sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed
  • Diced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Stir in the dried basil. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it should come together to form a smooth, creamy paste. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes.
  2. Over medium heat, add the milk gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking quickly and constantly until each addition is incorporated fully into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency, 5-10 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked noodles.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/creamy-tuscan-pasta-sauce-quick-20-minute-dinner/
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

52 Responses to Creamy Tuscan Pasta Sauce {Quick 20-Minute Dinner}

  1. Your 20 minutes dinners always save me! And they’re always delicious!

  2. Stefani says:

    Story of my life. Northern Vermont winters can be long and brutal. We are just starting to see buds on the trees. Yay for spring!

  3. Christine says:

    This sounds so yummy! I’d love to try to make it tonight. I do have one question, on the Parmesan cheese. When you say grated, is that the kind that is in the green container by Kraft?

  4. Teresa R. says:

    Love quick meals, especially when the look as delicious as this one!

  5. Leslie says:

    This looks so easy and delicious! My husband isn’t a fan of sun dried tomatoes. Think it would have enough flavor without them? Would you substitute with anything else? Love the updated website!!!

  6. Mel says:

    Hi Leslie – you could leave them out but it would be more like the classic creamy alfredo sauce on my blog (which is still delicious).

  7. Mel says:

    Hi Christine – I use freshly grated Parmesan cheese from a wedge of Parmesan.

  8. Clarissa Meegan says:

    That picture, that description….sold! Thanks again!

  9. Rebecca Hale says:

    This looks yummy and very easy. We’ll probably serve it over cavatappi. (Not like it matters to you, Mel, but my husband shudders every time he hears the word ‘noodles’ in connection with a pasta dish. He says “The Chinese have noodles, the Italians have pasta.”)

    Christine, if you have a Costco or similar near you it’s a great place to buy Parmigiano Reggiano (super authentic, out of this world taste, Parmesan cheese) in wedges. I usually grate the whole thing at once, then put the cheese in a zip bag in the freezer and take out what I need.

  10. Thesha says:

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it.

  11. Amanda says:

    You always come through. Just this morning I was thinking how I need to expand my pasta sauce repertoire! Thanks!

  12. Danielle says:

    I think I must make this tonight! Thank you!

  13. Darcy says:

    I cry when I think about making your creamy alfredo sauce, it is so easy and delish! I think I’ll give this one a shot too!

  14. Mel, this looks so mouthwatering! Funny you posted this. I added cream cheese to my usual pasta sauce recipe recently, and it took it to a WHOLE other level! So amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Alison says:

    Thanks! Just have to say you blog looks great but I like when you can see the full version of the newest recipe instead of having to click to read more.

  16. Danielle says:

    Yup! made it last night and it went straight to my recipes we liked board on pinterest. Thanks! I love quick, easy, and yummy recipes like this!

  17. Rachael says:

    Made this tonight and we have no leftovers!!! I loved that I truly was in and done in about 20 minutes and it was so tasty. We used some dried tomatoes I have kept in the freezer. Perfect. All the kids gave a thumbs up to making it again. I am not a fan of alfredo sauces in general but this one is a BIG exception. Thanks so much!

  18. AshlEe says:

    Mel! I love you! I made this today and everyone loved it! My hubby said he’ll take this over his favorite (time-consuming) steak Gorgonzola pasta any time. Thanks!!

  19. wendy says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I made it today and added braised, shredded short ribs. So tastey!!!!!!

  20. Lisa says:

    Delicious! I have some of the sauce left over which is a huge plus. My husband and 1 year old also loved this.

  21. Evelyn says:

    Made this last night and it was wonderful! I’ve never used sun dried tomatoes before, and because my family won’t eat tomatoes if they can see them (sigh), I used my P.C. chopper to chop them up really small…worked like a charm!

  22. Beth says:

    Keeper! I think I like this even more than the pure Alfredo version, and I make that a lot. This was delicious and came together so quickly. I think it would be a nice side for a more-than-20-minute-dinner night with your lemon garlic chicken and some green beans. I’ll just have to make sure to always have a jar of sun-dried tomatoes on hand now . . .

  23. Tracy says:

    Made this last night. Tossed in some grilled chicken and it was so yummy. Maybe I haven’t eaten out in a while but I thought this sauce was better than anything I have eaten in a restaurant in quite some time! Husband and BIL agreed! Fast and easy to whip up. My kids didn’t make a peep while eating and asked for seconds.

  24. Shauntel says:

    We loved this. I used just a small bag of sun dried tomatoes, and it still worked wonderfully. We served it over regular pasta and GF pasta (for me). Delicious!

  25. Schwidawg says:

    This looks good and easy to make. My only concern is the cream cheese. The cream cheese has to take this meal off the healthy chart big time!!

  26. Amy says:

    YUM. I have been scouring your site for a couple of days and made this (my first Mel recipe) last night. Best pasta sauce I’ve ever made, hands down! I can’t wait to try many more of your recipes!

  27. Rachey says:

    Man, I love me some Pizza Ranch though. Where I moved, we are lacking. But this recipe looks awesome and is definitely going into the queue.

  28. Holly says:

    Winner! And ready to go so very quickly! Thanks Mel – this is a fabulous addition to my weeknight dinners.

  29. Jennifer D. says:

    Loved this! Another easy, delicious dinner thanks to you! I added some grilled chicken for my “there has to be meat for it to be a meal” husband. Divine! I’m eating the leftovers right now as a matter of fact! You rock as always!

  30. Stacy says:

    This was fantastic! I had hubby grill some chicken to put on top and it was so yummy!

  31. Shannon says:

    I have a question. Instead of the cream cheese, can I sub heavy cream for the cream cheese?

  32. Mel says:

    Shannon – I haven’t made that substitution and so I can’t attest for the results. It will likely change the consistency of the sauce (make it much thinner) so you’ll have to experiment and see. I highly recommend using the cream cheese if you can.

  33. Aggie says:

    I’ve already had dinner – and an ice cream come – now I want a plate of this pasta!! Looks so delicious!

  34. Shannon says:

    I didn’t use heavy cream and just used the cream cheese. I am glad I didn’t. It’s was so good, and my dad loved it. Fabulous recipe.

  35. Jeanne says:

    I just made this, and absolutely love it…considering just eating the sauce like soup…yeah, that yummy!

  36. Tanvi says:

    How many ounces of uncooked pasta is this sauce recipe for?

  37. Mel says:

    Tanvi – probably about 12 ounces to a pound depending on how saucy you like your pasta.

  38. amanda says:

    I made this last night. It is one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth. The cream cheese makes it amazing. I added some bacon bits to my sauce and used some petite diced tomatoes instead of sun dried.
    Thank you for this recipe, it is fantastic.

  39. Sarah says:

    Made this dish and it was a success. I added mushroom and broccoli with it and all I can say is YUMMY TO MY TUMMY! Thank you Mel for this A——MAZING recipe. It sure is a keeper in this mama’s kitchen :)

  40. Liz R says:

    I just made this and was literally smacking myself it was so delish! My kids devoured it as did hubby and it was given 10 stars by the WHOLE family!!! Thank you!!!

  41. I thought I had tried every pasta sauce known to man…but this one is new to me and I am so into it!! Def on my list of “must try!”

  42. Julie Frey says:

    To Shannon and Mel- I made the heavy cream substitution tonight! Worked fine! I unfortunately did not have sun dried tomatoes (so bummed!) but I did have canned roasted tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano- they worked fine too-only used a cup of the heavy cream because of juice in canned roasted tomatoes. This sauce came out delicious!!! Love the flavor, wished I had had the sun dried tomatoes, will try it again with those next time! I’m pin’n this one!

  43. […] Recipe: ¬†Creamy Tuscan Pasta Sauce by Mel’s Kitchen […]

  44. Andrea says:

    I have made this twice now and my family loves it! Mine has turned out really, really thick both times. I followed the recipe exactly except for using Neufchatel cheese. I did add grilled chicken at the end as well. I watched the cooking time very closely to make sure that wasn’t the problem with the thickness. It was still delicious, but in your picture it looks much thinner, which I would prefer. What would you suggest to thin it? Less parmesan? More milk?

  45. Mel says:

    Hi Andrea – I think if you added just a touch more milk to thin it out at the end, it should work just fine.

  46. Jami says:

    Huge hit with my family! In fact, every huge hit with my family comes from your website. You are my go-to source when I’m menu planning.
    Made this exactly according to the recipe, just threw in some leftover grilled chicken and two cups of chopped spinach at the end (always trying to sneak in more veggies). I ate mine over sauteed shredded zucchini. Kids and hubby had it with pasta/zucchini combo. And we should have enough for some leftovers later in the week. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  47. Jen K says:

    Absolutely delicious! Next time I would add sauté chicken pieces & no salt because I think the cheese adds enough salt. Taste the dish before you put it in. Also, I added steamed broccoli to the menu & it was so good mixed in with the pasta.

  48. Heather B. says:

    I have dried Sundried tomatoes. Can I substitute them? How would you re-hydrate them?

  49. Mel says:

    Heather – usually you can rehydrate the dried tomatoes in hot water (submerge them in hot water for 10-15 minutes). Drain and then chop – then use them in the recipe. Good luck!

  50. Amanda Z says:

    This was so good! I used 2% milk and low fat cream cheese and it was still very creamy and delicious. I added Italian sausage right before serving the sauce and it was a great addition, it was so yummy! Thanks for a great pasta sauce!

  51. Haley says:

    Delicious. Loved it!

  52. Kelsey says:

    This sauce is so beautiful! Just made it (subbed cream for half the milk and used roasted bell peppers and peas instead of sundried tomatoes, but I do want to try the tomatoes in the future), and I didn’t have the usual problem of the sauce getting clumpy because of your good directions. It’s so smooth and silky and just delicious! Will definitely make again.

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