If you have never tasted basil pesto, put it on your to do list. If you have never made pesto put it right above tasting pesto. Pesto is so very easy to make and serve. This tasty sauce has 5 ingredients and very basically you put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and press go. Once it is smooth and thick you are ready for dipping, spreading or mixing it with hot pasta (which happens to be my new favorite thing) and eat. Trust me when I say: “It is so delicious”.
Pesto is one of my most favorite things to make and eat. I almost never get enough of it. I think it is because basil is a seasonal herb and when basil season is over; that’s it for several months. Except this past year, it happened to be available all year round at Gordon’s Food Service here in Flint. The basil was quite expensive but, some things are just worth the cost. And, I had to have it for my Pesto and Pasta with roasted tomatoes…. Just, let me tell you all about it.
Normally, you would make pesto on the day you wanted to serve it because it turns brown easily after being refrigerated. Recently though, I read that if you drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on top of any remaining pesto and refrigerate it; it will not turn brown. Well, I tried it out and; it turns out to be true! This is great news!! Adding a thin layer of olive oil will extend the life of the pesto and it will last for about a week in the fridge. The only thing you have to do is bring the container of pesto to room temp to melt down the top layer of olive oil that has solidified. I usually just turn on the stove top and boil some water with the container of cold pesto sitting close by to absorb some of the heat. Only takes 20-30 minutes. If by chance you do not want to use all the pesto at once, you can freeze it in individual cubes in a ice tray, or freeze it all in a flat freezer bag until ready for use.
Today we are making pesto, roasted tomatoes and pasta! Are you ready? Here is our grocery list: fresh basil leaves, fresh garlic cloves, pine nuts, fresh Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, spaghetti or bucatini pasta, and cherry tomatoes.
In the grocery list you see two options for the pasta; spaghetti or bucatini. So, we know that spaghetti is a long, thin, round, rope like pasta. Bucatini pasta is almost the same except it is a little thicker and it has a hole running through the pasta from end to end. The hole through the pasta allows sauce to get inside the pasta giving more flavor to it. I like it because it is thicker than traditional spaghetti pasta and it seems a little more heartier. If you don’t want to use bucatini pasta or can’t find it at your grocer, just use plain spaghetti pasta it will be delicious either way.
This pesto pasta tastes good while still warm or can be refrigerated and served cold the next day. I would not advise reheating.
On this particular day I served the pasta with homemade garlic bread and pizza sauce made from scratch.
Fresh Basil Pesto & Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
2 cups/2 bunches fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/3 cup roasted pine nuts (5-6 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees)
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (please do not buy the green container)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (see MAKE TOMATOES)
1/2 pound bucatini pasta (see MAKE PASTA)
Fresh Parmesan cheese for finishing
Make Pesto: In the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor add in the basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Pulse the blender several times until basil leaves are minced. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides. With the blender on low, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add in salt and pepper and then blend on high for 3-5 minutes until all ingredients are chopped and blended together nicely. You will have about 1 cup of pesto when all done. Spoon the pesto sauce into a small bowl and set aside until the tomatoes and pasta are ready.
Make Tomatoes: Cut tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet with 3 cloves on finely chopped garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir with rubber spatula on the baking sheet to evenly distribute all ingredients. Bake in the oven 20 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees; flipping halfway though.
Make Pasta: While the tomatoes are in the oven prepare the pasta according to the package directions cooking a couple of minutes longer to achieve very tender pasta. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water in a mug or liquid measuring cup. Drain the pasta. DO NOT RINSE.
Put drained pasta into a very large bowl. Spoon in most of the pesto into the cooked pasta and mix with tongs. Add in about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. This will thin the sauce enough to easily distribute through-out the cooked pasta. Stir in any remaining pesto. Top with roasted tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Mix in the tomatoes if desired. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.
That’s it. This will be you new favorite pasta. I think I am going to christen it “The Summer Pasta Salad of 2022”. The pesto pasta can go from the stove to the picnic table in 30 minutes or less; to be served warm or cold. And it makes a great late night snack. You can’t beat that!
Do you have a favorite pasta salad? Please let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
Be the Best YOU!