We have pots of basil growing around our property, and for some reason basil refuses to grow well in our garden, yet grows like a weed in our pots. During the summer, we have to harvest the basil weekly to prevent it from going to seed, so I am constantly making big batches of pesto that I freeze to enjoy during the cooler months.
Although you can make pesto with a variety of herbs including parsley, basil, mint, and arugula, basil remains my favorite herb of choice when making pesto. I also like to play around with other ingredients and often use lightly toasted almonds in place of pine nuts.
Depending on what I plan to use my pesto for, at times I make it creamy smooth while other times I prefer it chunky. In this specific recipe, I left the pesto a little chunky, and then tossed the pasta with cherry tomatoes marinated in olive oil and garlic. You can make this dish using just about any type of pasta, although I prefer either a long pasta such as spaghetti, or a short pasta such as fusilli since the sauce finds its way into all the grooves. This is a great summer pasta and I even enjoy leftovers cold the next day for lunch!
To toast the almonds, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for about 7 minutes, tossing the nuts as they bake, or until the nuts are a light golden brown. This year for the first time we also planted Greek basil which has tiny leaves that are just perfect to toss with my finished pasta dish as shown in the photos.
Just one of our many basil pots!
For The Pesto:
- 1 Bunch Fresh Basil, About 1 1/2 Cups Tightly Packed
- 1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Blanched almonds
- 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Large Garlic Clove
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For The Pasta:
- 1 Pound Whole Grain Pasta
- 2 Cups Halved, Ripe Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Garlic Clove Finely Minced
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese
- Place the pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.
- Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, salt, red peeper flakes, and pepper and set aside.
- Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then cook the pasta until it is “al dente”.
- Drain the pasta, then return to the pot.
- Add the pesto and cherry tomatoes and toss with the hot pasta over medium high heat until piping hot.
- Serve in individual bowls, passing the cheese at the table.