Delicious Linguine with Tomato Basil Pesto
This delicious linguine with tomato basil pesto is a great weeknight dish – easy and quick to make, bursting with flavor, and pretty to look at too! It can also use as a good first course for entertaining. Feel free to play with the recipe a bit…use different kinds of cherry tomatoes, for example. I prefer the orange Sweet 100s, which are sweet and delicious, and a nice small size. But you can really use any sweet cherry tomato. You can use different nuts…swapping roasted walnuts for the pine nuts if you prefer. And of course you can play with the herbs as well. You could use all parsley, or use a combination of parsley, chives, basil, oregano, for example. I think you’ll find this recipe is quite versatile and will work no matter what ingredients you choose to use. I think you could also add some grilled shrimp to this, and that’d be great too.
Here is the recipe exactly as I prepared it…This recipe serves 2 and can be doubled to serve 4.
2 cups (1 basket) of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes (I prefer Sweet 100s)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3/4 cup pine nuts
leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
5 oz fresh or dried linguini (spaghetti can be substituted)
First, set aside 4 of the basil leaves (which we’ll use for garnish and address later in the recipe). Turn on the broiler in your oven, and while it’s heating, put the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a cookie sheet. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix to make sure everything is coated well. Put under the broiler when hot (about 2-3″ below the broiler element) and cook until the tomatoes begin to brown and some of them are splitting open, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool slightly. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until lightly browned. Set aside a couple of tablespoons to use as garnish.
To make the pesto, place the rest of the pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender (use a mini processor if you have one). Add all of the basil leaves except those you set aside for garnish, and add the parsley. Add half of the roasted tomatoes, all of the garlic cloves, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Purée until smooth, and taste for seasoning, adjusting salt, pepper and lemon as needed. Set the pesto aside.
Put the water on to boil for the pasta, salting it generously.
To create decorative ‘threads’ of basil for garnish, the best method is to use the chiffonade technique. It sounds complicated, but it’s not! Simply stack the leaves, one on top of the other. Then roll them from one end to the other tightly, forming a cigar shape. Watching your fingers carefully, very thinly slice across the cigar and you’ll get beautiful thin slices of basil. Simply fluff the resulting threads so they separate and set aside.
Now, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until cooked. Before draining, use a measuring cup to extract 1/2 cup of pasta water. Then drain the noodles, and put them back into the pot or into a serving bowl. Add the pesto and half the pasta water, and mix together so that all the noodles are coated. Add more of the pasta water if needed to get a nice sauce consistency that coats the noodles but isn’t watery. Serve the pasta on two plates, by piling the noodles in the center. Garnish first with the remaining roasted tomatoes, then the grated parmesan, then the basil and finally the pine nuts. Serve immediately.