The end of summer is quickly approaching, so you have to enjoy the best tomatoes and basil while they’re still out there. Off season tomatoes are usually just so sad. So sad. So lets make some pasta!
This is another old, refurbished recipe of mine. You can’t go wrong with pasta and classic basil pesto. The only thing not so classic about my pesto is the lemon. If it’s not your thing, just skip it. I happen to like the extra acidity. If you’re vegan, you can also skip the cheese and add a few more nuts. I’m totally okay with that idea. I’ve eaten cheese-free pesto before. It will still be super delicious. I promise.
I love the addition of roasted tomatoes in this dish. Especially if they’re cute, little heirloom ones. I took my first trip to a NJ Fairway market, and had to snatch these guys up right away. If you can’t find heirlooms, no worries. Standard grape tomatoes will do you just fine.
The tomatoes are great, because they provide texture, a juicy pop in your mouth, and a little sweetness and acidity. Obviously, tomatoes and basil are a no-brainer combo. They’ve been friends for a long time. Maybe even lovers, but I’ll mind my business and just let them do their thing.
And lets not forget about how nutritious tomatoes are, too. Check out this article to learn more about the numerous health benefits of tomatoes, as well as, some really interesting facts: http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/tomatoes-health-benefits/.
Aren’t they so beautiful after they’re roasted, too? My tomatoes were quite ripe and happened to cook quickly, but keep in mind, cooking times always vary. It might take longer than 6-10 minutes for your tomatoes to blister and soften, so never assume a recipe is pure fact. Different tomatoes, different ovens, different outcomes.
Another tip, which I learned from my new job, is to be careful not to over toast the pine nuts! I mean, I knew they burned quickly, but you really need to pay close attention to those little, buttery nuggets. While toasting them, make sure to turn them often. You’re not really looking for any color to develop. They should basically just smell fragrant and maybe take on the tiniest tint of golden color, and they’re ready. Set a timer. It saved me.
If you’re going to make this, or any pesto dish in fact, I suggest you make extra pesto. Double, triple or even quadruple the recipe, and store the extra in glass jars. Top them off with some oil and they will freeze beautifully. There are obviously an endless number of uses for pesto, but I have something particular in mind for my extra pesto. It’s another pasta dish I like to make from time to time. An extra decadent one at that, which will be suitable for the upcoming chillier months.
Did I mention how easy this recipe is, too? You can make your pesto while the tomatoes are roasting and the pasta is cooking, and it’ll be ready in a flash. Perfect for a weeknight dinner, for sure. Maybe even for a meatless Monday, if you’re into that. I guess there really isn’t much else to say about this except, go make it! Now! And you’ll love it. I think so anyway.
- 8oz farfalle pasta
- 1 ½ C (8 oz) grape or cherry tomatoes, whole or halved, if large (I used heirloom)
- 7T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Pinch of sugar
- 3C (1 oz) basil leaves, loosely packed
- ¼ C (1.25 oz) toasted pine nuts or walnuts (add extra 1-2T, if vegan)*
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ C (0.25 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated (omit if vegan)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1T of oil and season with sugar and salt. Toss to coat. Roast for 6-10 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and starting to burst, rotating pan half way through. If needed, take some tomatoes out earlier than others (as they are cooked), checking every few minutes.
- While tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta water, and set aside.
- While the tomatoes and pasta are cooking, combine nuts and garlic in a food processor or good quality blender, and pulse until finely ground. Add basil, season lightly with salt and drizzle in a small amount of the remaining oil. Process until finely chopped, but do not over-process. Stream in olive oil slowly while blending until a thick paste forms. Add cheese and pulse to combine. Stir in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
- Add hot pasta to a bowl with pesto a couple tablespoons of pasta water, as needed, and stir to combine. Top with roasted tomatoes. Enjoy.
- To toast pine nuts, add them to a small, cold pan. Turn heat to medium. Toss frequently as nuts gently toast, for about 3-4 minutes or until fragrant and golden, not dark brown.