August 15, 2008

Pasta with Tomato Pesto

This is a long-time favorite that I copied out of a vegetarian cookbook one evening while babysitting when I was about 15. I wish I knew now the name of the cookbook it came from! I've made this dish all year round in the past, with dried herbs instead of fresh, and I've always loved it. But with so few ingredients, this is really a dish that showcases each of them, where you will really notice how fresh garlic, fresh herbs, and freshly grated (real) Parmigiano Reggiano bring it to a whole other level. This recipe also helped me learn the technique of tossing a couple of tablespoons of the boiling water into the pesto before draining the pasta to help loosen it and better coat the pasta.

Pasta with Tomato Pesto

1/3 C pine nuts, toasted if you dare (set a timer!) 
6-oz. can tomato paste 
1/2 C fresh minced parsley (or 4 t dried) 
1/4 C fresh minced basil (or 2 t dried) 
1/2 C olive oil 
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
s & p 
1 lb. bow ties, penne, rotini, or other medium pasta 

Lightly toast pine nuts at 350 until golden (about 5 minutes). Combine pine nuts with all ingredients except pasta. (May be done ahead, covered, and chilled. Bring to room temperature before mixing with noodles.) 

Cook pasta until al dente. Before draining, stir 2 T boiling water into the sauce. Drain pasta, mix with sauce, taste for seasoning (always needs more salt after tossing with the pasta), serve immediately.

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