Spaghetti with Tomato Pesto

So maybe it's not that big of a deal that pasta recipes take up the bulk of my recipe index.  I mean, I totally understand if you've had your fill and want to move on to another website that believes in balance and offering a varied array of recipes that don't necessarily include spaghetti or any of its pasta relatives.  I do understand, really, and I hope you'll check back in because I promise that my next post has nothing whatsoever to do with boiling a pot of water.  But for now, I just can't bring myself to apologize for throwing another pasta recipe out there. Tomato Pesto needs no apologies. It's crazy good, people.  Crazy good.

I've made several batches of this pesto, earnestly trying to verify that really it is that good.  And I'm here to tell you that yes, indeed, it is.  We have become very fond of this stuff.  But I will resist the urge to say that “oh, it’s our favorite pasta ever” because if you look in the recipe index you will see a complete list of all of my pasta kids and I just can’t in good conscience say that one is more beloved than another.  At least not in front of them. 

But that will not prevent me from extolling the virtues of Tomato Pesto as one of the most lovely, satisfying, delicious sauces that you might ever chance to combine with a pound of spaghetti.  Or penne, or farfalle, or linguini, or whatever pasta floats your boat on any given day.  And as for virtues, it has many.

The one you might be most interested in (besides it’s deliciousness) is that it is about the easiest pasta sauce to make, as is the case with most pesto-type sauces.  Just throw a few ingredients into the food processor or blender and then mix it with your cooked pasta.  Doesn't get too much easier than that. But this one is not only super easy, super quick and delicious, but it has the extra advantage of not needing to be cooked, which is a major bonus in the middle of August.  Of course, you still have to cook your pasta in a vat of boiling water, but better to have only one pan heating than two or three, I always say. 

And, as I mentioned above, I was taken a little by surprise that tomato pesto turned out to be this good.  I mean, I was happy to give it a try as I’ve got a surplus of tomatoes and basil from the garden right now.  And of course, I was curious, but not at all prepared for how actually scrumptious it turned out to be.  The tomato flavors come through, but are delicately muted by the basil and pine nuts, with just a hint of garlic, and the olive oil manages to beautifully smooth it all out and truthfully, I could just eat buckets of this stuff.  It may just be my favorite pasta, but you’ll never hear me sayin’ that.  Here’s the recipe…

Spaghetti with Tomato Pesto

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy Food52

I rarely follow a pasta recipe exactly as written, and this one needed no tweaking.  But I did some tweaking anyway.  :)  I didn't change much, but substituted pine nuts for the walnuts and spaghetti for the capellini.  Oh, and I used a mix of grape tomatoes and small romas that I quartered.  None of those changes are earth-shattering, just personal preferences and the fact that I had bushels of roma tomatoes from the garden begging to be included.  Oh, and I added salt.  And used a combination of pecorino and parmesan cheese.  But other than that, this recipe is about perfect.

Serves 4

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sun-dried or regular tomato paste
½ packed cup fresh basil leaves
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you prefer it spicier)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup crumbled walnuts (or toasted pine nuts), plus more for serving if using pine nuts
¼ cup coarsely grated Pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more for serving if desired
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving if desired
12 ounces spaghetti or capellini

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, walnuts (or pine nuts), basil, pepper flakes and Pecorino; pulse to combine. With motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream until a thick sauce forms.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and place it in a serving bowl.  Add enough of the pesto to coat the pasta well, and sprinkle with additional Pecorino, a drizzle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts and some chopped fresh basil, if desired.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment