Jul 24, 2010

Passion for Pesto

I can’t remember where I first saw a recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, perhaps it was Giada on the Food TV Network. In any event, I followed the recipe very loosely, having only a package of sun-dried tomatoes and not the tomatoes packed in olive oil. So, how to use dry sun-dried tomatoes?

The first time I soaked them in some water first, then put them in the blender with other ingredients. This was somewhat successful, but the result was more hard pieces of tomato than I would have liked. The next time I heated them in a little water on the stove, and this was much more successfully a paste. It tasted really good, too, even if it looked a little muddy.

Also, when I was in England last year, I picked up a magazine called Woman’s Weekly, and inside was a recipe for Rocket Pesto. Rocket is also known in the U.S. as Arugula. It’s a salad vegetable like lettuce, with a nice peppery flavor. I had a bag that was about to get old, so I tried this recipe too. It was really good I thought, and so did the family. Another tricky way to get them to eat vegetables!

Encouraged by this, I also tried to make pesto from other kinds of lettuce, Spinach was good, but Butter lettuce was not! I also see a recipe for Avocado Pesto on the UK site. Maybe I’ll try that one too! Let me know if you do…

Recipes for Giada’s Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Rocket Pest follow:

Penne with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Show: Everyday ItalianEpisode: Power of Pesto


12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (or dried tomatoes soaked in hot water for 20 min.)
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.


Rocket Pesto
from Woman's World UK


100-120g bag rocket
50g (1¾oz) pine nuts, lightly toasted
8tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
50g (1¾oz) pecorino cheese, finely grated (or other vegetarian equivalent)
1tbsp lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pasta like spaghetti, to serve
Shavings of pecorino cheese, to serve

Place the rocket leaves and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor, or blender, along with the olive oil, garlic, pecorino and lemon juice. Purée until the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, then drain it thoroughly. Add the pesto to the pasta, according to taste, and stir well to coat in the sauce.

Spoon the pasta on to serving plates and scatter some shavings of pecorino over and serve immediately. (Not suitable for freezing).

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