Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta

Mama Mia... Papa Pia... How I love pasta... This past Saturday morning, I was lounging around flipping between Food Network and HGTV (whatever happened to Saturday morning cartoons??) and I started watching Sunny Anderson make this delicious tomato pesto. I thought "Well that's a great alternative to the usual marinara sauce!" Luckily I had most of the ingredients on hand and it came to be a delicious dinner last night!

What you'll need:
10-15 cloves of garlic (OR 3 tbsp of pre-minced garlic from a jar)
1/2 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 lb cherry tomatoes (or plum tomatoes... I actually used 3 Roma tomatoes and it was fine)
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
Linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti
2 tbsp of pine nuts, toasted (this may be hard to find, Whole Foods sell them in their bulk section)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Tomato Sauce (optional)
Red Crushed Peppers, toasted (optional)

The "How to":
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Place garlic in a single layer in a small baking dish. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to cover cloves, cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes, until golden brown and fork-tender.
a. If you are using the pre-minced garlic like I did, then spread them into a thin layer and spray them with cooking spray and cover with foil
3. In another baking dish, toss tomatoes with enough oil to coat. Roast at same temperature until tomatoes blister, about 25 minutes (you’ll see the skin of the tomato split)
4. Put your pasta to boil – follow the instructions on the pasta box
5. While the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, place the pine nuts and red crushed pepper (optional for heat) in a saute pan. Toss occasionally, until the pine nuts start goldening
6. Once garlic and tomatoes are ready, strain garlic cloves and put them in the blender along with the tomatoes. Reserve the olive oil from the garlic for straining or you could make a yummy salad dressing!
7. Add basil, parmesan, salt, pepper, pine nuts and red crushed pepper to the blender.. Pulse until combined. While machine is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil until pesto comes together. If you feel like the sauce is too chunky, add in the tomato sauce until it becomes the consistency you want.
8. Add in seasoning and extra cheese if needed and blend

So incredibly yummy and I didn’t even need to add extra cheese on top! There will be leftover pesto, use it as a bread dip!