Pesto is a perfect pasta sauce. Perfectly adaptable, I tend to make pesto with whatever leaves, nuts, and seeds I have on hand. Apart from classic basil, I also love to use English spinach, kale, rocket, carrot tops, parsley, and coriander. This pesto is a little different, with a bold tomato base. Grill your tomatoes to bring out their sweetness and add smokiness. Then, whizz them up with walnuts and parmesan for a creamy, tangy, earthy pesto sauce. Fusilli, linguine, spaghetti, pappardelle, or bucatini work best.
- 2 lbs cherry or small tomatoes, halved
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1 lb. pasta
- Handful of basil leaves
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Heat the grill to high. Place the tomatoes on a large tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Season with a big pinch of sea salt. Grill the tomatoes for 6–8 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered and released some liquid.
- In a blender or food processor, whizz up the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and red chile flakes to a fine paste. Add the walnuts and half of the tomatoes, and with the motor running, pour in 1/3 cup of olive oil in a steady stream. When combined, stir in the parmesan and season with sea salt and a good turn of black pepper.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta, stirring. Cook according to the packet instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/2cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.
- Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the pesto along with a splash or two of the reserved pasta cooking water. Keep adding the cooking liquid in small amounts until the sauce coats the pasta effortlessly. Scatter over the remaining grilled tomatoes and the basil leaves.
- To serve, top bowls of pasta with a generous amount of parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice and a finishing drizzle of olive oil.
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