Pasta With Tomato & Almond Pesto

Color me happy, my food blog friends!  I’ve been waiting all summer long to share this recipe with you and the time has come.  TODAY!  Get ready for the most delicious version of pesto you’ve ever had, and I am not fooling around.

When I made this dish for the first time back in June, I have to admit that I had low expectations.  I wasn’t quite sure how blending up a bunch of grape tomatoes with toasted almonds could ever turn in to one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time, but it did.  Wow, did it ever.  In fact, immediately after the dishes were washed and the kitchen was put back in order, I sat down at my computer and fired off the recipe (along with a glowing review) to a handful of the foodies in my life.  Several days later I heard back from them with comments that ranged from “delicious and amazing” to “heavenly and life changing!”.  Yes, one friend even said it changed her life.  I trust these girls – if they tried a recipe and hated it, they would absolutely tell me to go jump in the lake.

The point is, you simply cannot go wrong with this recipe.

I’ve served it as a main dish with sliced grilled chicken on top, or as a vegetarian meal with a simple green salad.  I’ve doubled it with no trouble and frozen some for a rainy day.  Now, please go to the Store immediately and gather the minimal ingredients required for this dish!  You will not be sorry!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!


Serves 4-6

Source:  Cooks Illustrated Magazine, June/July 2009

  • ¼ c. slivered almonds
  • 12 oz. grape tomatoes (about 2 ½ cups), on sale this week, 8/19/09 to 8/25/09
  • ½ c. packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced finely or pressed
  • 1 small pepperoncini (hot peppers in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (find these by the olives, capers, and roasted peppers at the Store)
  • Salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 c. good quality olive oil – repeat, good quality olive oil, thank you.
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving – again, use a good quality Parm’ and kindly do not resort to the green-canned variety, let’s maintain some standards here if you please.

Toast the almonds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2-4 minutes.  Cool almonds to room temperature.

Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 t. salt, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.  Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.  With machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, about 30 seconds.  Adjust seasonings.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the pasta and 1 T. salt and cook according to directions on package.  Reserve ½ c. cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

Add pesto and ½ c. Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with the reserved pasta water so that the pesto coats the pasta.  Serve in shallow bowls, passing additional Parmesan at the table.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | August 19th, 2009