Tomato Almond Pesto

  • This is a great harvest-season dish. It's quick, simple, and tasty. The flavor is similar to "standard" pesto -- minus the heaviness.
  • I started with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated e-newsletter, and made a few tweaks -- like doubling the garlic and decreasing the cheese. They recommend linguine or spaghetti for the pasta. I've used penne, riggatoni, chili macs, and even star-shaped soup pasta!
  • The pesto is gluten-free. Obviously, some pasta is gluten free and others are not.
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes or 2 cups tomato cut into large chunks
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound pasta -- see note above
1/3 to ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • In a small dish, mix vinegar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  • Toast almonds in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 2 to 4 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  • In food processor, mix almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, vinegar-pepper mixture (first step), and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula.
  • With processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, about 30 seconds.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain the pasta.
  • Toss pasta, pesto sauce, and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Add salt, if needed. Add water if needed.
  • I found that the leftovers were better if I added some of the pasta water to the container before I put it away in the fridge.

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