Fettuccine with Leek Pesto and Sambuca Cream

Last month my husband and I were in a bookstore when he spotted this cookbook, ‘Cooking with Booze’. The title caught his eye and he started to flip through the pages. After glancing through the pages, I agreed with hubby that we should buy this book. I’m glad we did as there are many delicious looking recipes. Cocktail connoisseurs Ryan Jennings and David Steele are the authors of this book and their humor, alongside the 96 recipes, is a cookbook one needs to seriously consider. They give tips as well as cocktail recipes on each page. They have a second book to compliment this one, ‘Entertaining with Booze’ so this will be another book to purchase! I love pesto and the idea of using leeks for pesto intrigued me. Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur. It is usually served in restaurants with 3 coffee beans and is said that the beans represent: health, happiness, and prosperity. I’ll drink to that!

Serves 6

recipe from Cooking with Booze

Leek Pesto

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup ground almonds
4 cloves garlic
2 cups sliced leeks (white parts only)

1 1/2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white sambuca
1 teaspoon salt
500g fettuccine

To make pesto, toast pine nuts in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in skillet until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Pay attention as pine nuts can burn easily. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, Parmesan, almonds, parsley, garlic, leeks and pine nuts in a food processor and purée. Set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 230c (450f). Roast cherry tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet for 20-25 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté chicken breasts until juices run clear, allow to cool, and slice diagonally into thin strips. Add pesto to pan then slowly add cream and milk, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice, sambuca and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to thicken until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Drain. Toss chicken and tomatoes with sambuca cream and serve over fettuccine.

The Culinary Chase’s Note
: This dish was absolutely delicious!! The sambuca added a gentle licorice flavor which was a good match with the leek pesto. I had some semi-dried tomatoes which I used instead of roasting mine. Seconds? Yes, please!


  1. Bill W, NH, USA on February 13, 2009 at 22:30

    Wow, that sounds really good, perhaps the best one you ever posted. I’m going to make it tomorrow for Valentine’s Day for my girlfriend and I.

  2. Cynthia on February 14, 2009 at 02:20

    Helen that pasta looks so delicious and I am hungry right now 🙂

    Tomorrow I am making Char Siu :)Have had it marinating now for 2 days.

  3. The Culinary Chase on February 14, 2009 at 02:25

    Thanks Bill & Cynthia! Wow, Cynthia, the flavors will be soooo amazing after 2 days of marinating!! Cheers!

  4. Gattina on February 15, 2009 at 08:33

    Heather, I just “wowed” even only seeing the photo and the title of the dish! Got to try it!

  5. The Culinary Chase on February 16, 2009 at 10:38

    Thanks Gattina! If I do say so myself, this is a delicious recipe! Cheers!

  6. Bill W, NH, USA on February 18, 2009 at 14:28

    Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t get to this recipe till last night (was going to make it on Valentine’s Day). The only deviations I made were to use oven dried Romas instead (halved, a bit of sea salt and olive oil drizzle, and then cooked in the oven at 200 degrees F. for 4 hours, cut side up, the tomato skins are a breeze to remove with this method). I also only cooked 250 grams of pasta as it was just two of us.
    We both taste tested for seasonings and decided it needed more salt and also it needed pepper. This sauce is very unique and quite good, a real change from the usual. If I ever opened a restaurant, this dish would be on the menu. I’ll make it again but want to experiment by cutting the Sambuca in half and adding some Thai basil to the pesto (very similar in taste but the basil would give the sauce more of a bite). Thanks Heather!!