recipe: sun-dried tomato pesto pasta

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One of my favroite quick-and-easy recipes of all-time is Giada De Laurentiis' sun-dried tomato pesto pasta. Whenever Rob and I wanted a delicious dinner (and fast!) this was our go-to recipe. Sidenote: it also tastes great on top of crostini.

Since we arrived in Italy, we had not made this recipe -- or any pesto for that matter. We don't have a blender and I kept thinking "how on Earth will we make pesto without a blender." I'm sure all of the collective foodies that read this blog just gasped in horror, right?!

The simple logic of it all (which has never been my strong suit) struck me yesterday: pesto is older than blenders. Hence, you must be able to make pesto without a blender. A simple Google search brought me to 101Cookbooks and a post called "How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother." Awesome!

We adapted the technique from this article with most of the ingredients from Giada's recipe and poof! Delicious, amazing and beautiful sun-dried tomato pesto pasta. Who knew? OK, apparently everyone but me. Our recipe follows below.

The basil was from our own backyard garden and it was a pretty amazing to have such a delicious meal and know that something we grew was part of it. We're gaining a new appreciation for fresh, locally grown foods here. It's not an "eat local" movement here in Tuscany...it's just life. We planted a ton of new stuff the past few days. Here's hoping it prospers as well as our basil.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Two handfuls of basil
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (we used about 8), preferably tomatoes that are either still in oil or moist from being in it.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Pasta of your choice (penne and fusilli work best, because the pesto gets caught in all the nooks and crannies); about half a box.

The genius of this entire recipes falls in Heidi's advice to chop the garlic and a 1/3 of the basil to start. Once we that mixture is fairly fine, we added the remaining basil and chopped until the texture was even finer, but still had random bits of chunk. After the basil and garlic were mingling, we chopped in the sun-dried tomatoes. When that's all done, place the pesto in a bowl and pour some olive oil on top to keep it moist.

Note: it probably won't look like much pesto and you'll probably second-guess whether you've made enough. You have! Pesto is decieving like that.

Boil the pasta water and cook until al dente (or, if you're my parents, until the pasta is mushy...love you guys!). When you drain the pasta either (a) reserve about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water or (b) don't shake the pasta to drain it really well. Moral of the story is that you want a little bit of that moisture to keep the pesto from clumping.

Toss the pesto and pasta together until the pesto is evenly coating the pasta and you can barely contain yourself from eating it all with your bare hands. Serve immediately and top with a little parmesan or pecorino romano.

P.S. Winston says "Hi."

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