presto it’s pesto

You need to make dinner fast. Pesto to the rescue. There’s no cooking involved. A few ingredients can help you get a good dinner on the table any night of the week. Basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese. This is the time of year fresh basil is right outside the kitchen door.

In Trapani, Italy they have another version of pesto. The pine nuts are replaced with almonds. Some basil is used. But, in this version, the main ingredient is tomato. And, when there are just a handful of ingredients –roasting adds even more flavor. Feel free to skip this step. It will still be a family favorite.

We can use the same method for roasting tomatoes in the oven as we did the other day. It was too rainy to get to the grill that night. Tonight’s forecast promises the same.

Grill or roast the tomatoes. Follow the same method for preparing the tomatoes as we did for the “un-pizza.” The acidity of the balsamic vinegar plays off the sweetness of the tomato. The slightly charred tomato skins, from the oven or the grill, take on another flavor when mixed with toasted almonds.

Add sliced almonds to a dry pan set on a low flame. Sliced almonds cook quickly and evenly. You don’t want to be working with whole almonds when you want to pull a fast dinner together. Keep the nuts moving in the pan. This will take about a minute. The nuts are done when the scent of the almonds is present. The edges of the almonds will appear toasted.

Finely chop one bulb of garlic. Sprinkle some Kosher salt on the garlic. Use the back of your knife to mash and turn into a paste.

Place in a blender with the roasted tomatoes, a dash of salt, some torn basil leaves, and  Parmigiano Reggiano. Pulse the ingredients. Now, with the motor running, slowly add your oil to the blender. This is one of those times when you want to open the cabinet and reach for the good extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil will not be heated in this sauce. The fruity flavor of the extra virgin olive oil is more pronounced.

Use a thread-type of pasta like linguine or spaghetti. Despite what a recent report said, put salt in your cooking water. You can read more about it here: http://www.finecooking.com/item/45952/salt-pasta-and-water

A salad, a good loaf of bread, and dinner is done.

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