Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pasta and Tomato Pesto

This recipe was recommended to me a while ago and I've been waiting for my CSA basket to provide some delicious fresh tomatoes so I could make this. The basket finally decided to cooperate with some tomatoes that were entirely too good for early January. I made this dish on a seasonally completely inappropriate day. It was good. Even better, it comes together ridiculously fast. (As in the boy was confused that dinner was already ready.)

One year ago: Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Muffins
Two years ago: Tomatillo Sauce

Pasta and Tomato Pesto (from Cook's Illustrated)

1/4 cup slivered almonds
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 small pepperoncini (hot peppers in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) (or 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
Table salt
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta , preferably linguine or spaghetti
1 ounce Parmesan cheese , grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

1. Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.
2. Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes (if using) in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.
4. Add pesto and ½ cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

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