Pesto and Goat Cheese Pasta

Pesto and Goat Cheese - a match made in heaven.

When I was growing up, my parents made a genius move to end the fights at the dinner table.

My brother and I were to choose three things that we would never be asked to eat when they served it. No arguments from them on those three things. But also, no arguments from us on anything else on our plates.

My number one most hated food? Mac and Cheese. Even now, I cannot stand the smell of that stuff.

I about gagged the first time I served it to my oldest son. I felt guilty that  I was denying him something most kids love Mac and Cheese. Thanks goodness, it was never his favorite.

So, when I came across a dish called Pesto Mac and Goat Cheese I had to get over that “Mac” was in the name.

Thank goodness I couldn’t ignore the pesto and goat cheese part that made my mouth water.

The original recipe needed some toning down of the “super bad” ingredients like half-and-half and a too much cheese. And, while I wouldn’t exactly call this “healthy” it is sooo good that it’s worth the splurge.

I did mess up a little though. I decided to broil the top to get the bread crumbs all nice and toasty brown. Well, 4 minutes is too long. Those black flecks aren’t pepper. Oops!

Ingredients List


  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I used food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves (food processor again)
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 4 cups small or chunky pasta (I used Cappelletti)
  • 2 cups low-fat milk (I used 1%)
  • 10.5 ounces goat cheese (I used a “log” from Costco)

Pesto mixture…

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350ºF

Melt the 2 Tbsp of butter. In a large bowl add one clove minced garlic, 2 Tbsp basil, panko, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Add the melted butter and toss to combine. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, make pesto mixture by pulsing 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

When pasta is done cooking, pour pasta and water into a strainer to drain and return empty pot to stove.

Pour the milk in the pasta pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. When it simmers, add the goat cheese and whisk until smooth. Turn off heat.

Add the pasta back into the pasta pot and stir to coat. Stir in the pesto mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the panko mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes. If top needs a little browning, switch oven to broil for two minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.