By Gretchen McKay
Summer calls for dishes that don't require a lot of prep, hinge on seasonal produce and can be served either chilled or at room temperature, depending on the temperature of where you'll be eating it.
This pesto-dressed bowl of pasta fits the bill perfectly. Made with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil right out of the garden (or from your favorite farmer), the sauce requires only a quick whirl in a food processor or blender to come together.
I use a mix of toasted slivered almond and toasted cashews, but you could easily choose one or the other. Chili pepper olive oil from Liokareas adds the tiniest bit of a spicy kick, but you could also double up on the amount of regular olive oil and simply add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes instead.
It's served here over rigatoni, but the pesto is also pretty tasty as a spread for bruschetta or tucked into a sandwich; thinned with a little more olive oil, it makes a welcome dip on a charcuterie board. Add a green salad and some crusty Italian bread and you've got a great summer supper with plenty of leftovers for lunch.
Pasta With Fresh Tomato Pesto And Chili
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup cashews, toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large handful basil leaves, about 1 cup packed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, with a few reserved for garnish
Pinch or two of kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin chili pepper olive oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound cooked rigatoni, warm or room temperature
Place almonds and garlic in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and pulse together until finely chopped. Scrape down sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
Add the basil and tomatoes and pulse again to combine. Add Parmesan cheese along with a pinch or two of salt, and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides again with spatula.
With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream until combined. If pesto is too thick, add a little more olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.
Place cooked rigatoni in a bowl, then add pesto and toss well to combine. Spoon into bowls, and drizzle with a little more olive oil, if desired.
Serve garnished with reserved tomato, with additional Parmesan on the side. Add a green salad and bread for a full meal.
-- Gretchen McKay