While we love homemade Basil Pesto, this Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Roasted Almond Pesto is fantastic with pantry ingredients most will have on hand.
Normally around this time of year I have a garden bursting with basil. I plant enough bushes that I can snip off pieces all summer long and still have enough at summer’s end to make my favorite Basil Pesto. Not so this year. 🙁
A cold wet spring saw me get everything in late this year; I’ll be lucky if I have a tomato harvest that provides me with half a dozen tomatoes. Since all I do other than tomatoes are some herbs at least those will be good right?
Not so much. First getting plants this year was tough; I was simply not of a mindset to go into the largest greenhouse with lot of people so I was stuck with finding some at Home Depot. Smaller than normal but should have been fine, except for this HOT summer without enough rain and my own fault.
My herbs are all in a good sized planter that is waist high that I have to water by hand. I enjoy that morning ritual but last week the heat was too much and I missed a day in my schedule and by the next day my basil was all shriveled and fading. I cried a bit but it was my own fault.
So…what do you do without some fresh basil pesto? How about punting and mixing together different ingredients and making a totally unique but absolutely delicious version with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted almonds?
Even with some slight modifications, I have to give Food and Wine Magazine all the credit. I have a stack of magazines near my bed; one day when I had stressed my poor back out in the garden, I was laying on a heating pad and I was leafing through some old issues (as in September 2011!) and happened upon this delight.
While most people who hear the word ‘pesto’ will automatically think of the Italian paste made with basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil, the truth is that the word ‘pesto‘ comes from the word ‘peste’ meaning ‘to pound’, which refers to the method of preparation. That opens up all sorts of possibilities and it was my luck that I happened upon this version.
I knew I had all of the ingredients on hand and except for the almonds, it was pretty standard pantry ingredients. I did not include this in the recipe directions but all I had were plain whole Marcona almonds. I mixed them with some olive oil and kosher salt and roasted them myself in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. That worked…but buy them already roasted if you’re shopping for them, even easier.
While many cooks, especially Italians, still use a mortar and pestle to pound ingredients for pesto, today most recipes are quickly accomplished with a food processor. This particular recipe has simple ingredients, including (see full recipe at bottom of post):
- Sun-dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
- Salted roasted almonds
- One garlic clove
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
See…easy, and it’s all blended to a nice consistency. I like to leave mine with a bit of texture but it’s personal preference, leave it a bit chunky or blend til smooth. Then all you need is some pasta and Parmesan cheese and you have a tasty, delicious dinner! I love to finish mine with a squeeze of fresh lemon and basil but those are extras that are not as necessary; photos need garnish!
My basil may have been suffering but I rescued just enough leaves to perk up this dish with a bit of garnish…sad but at least I got something from that summer long effort!
PIN IT! ‘Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Roasted Almond Pesto’
- 1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (3 ounces)
- 1/3 cup salted roasted almonds
- 1 large garlic clove, sliced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Parmesan Cheese
- Basil, chopped
- Lemon wedges
- Pulse the tomatoes, almonds, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and puree. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a skillet, toast the panko bread crumbs in 2 tablespoons of the oil, stirring, until golden. Transfer the crumbs to a plate; season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In the pot, toss the pasta with the pesto, parsley, some of the reserved cooking water and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until the sauce clings to the pasta.
- Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, chopped basil, and top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
- Garnish if desired with lemon wedges, I like a hint of fresh lemon juice squeezed on top.
Double or triple batch the pesto and store it in a jar in the fridge for super quick meals. Also a great homemade gift for a neighbor, friend, or family.