Summertime is still is progress and when it gets super hot outside, I like to minimize my time in the kitchen. Creating a pasta salad with pesto made simply in the food processor and then tossed with cooked noodles, and garden fresh cherry tomatoes is the way to a tasty almost no-cook meal. Fresh basil is everywhere right now, and I happen to have my share in my garden, which needs a yummy recipe to display all it’s glory — and a quick and easy pesto is its new happy home. Making pesto with fresh herbs preserves the basil, especially when combined with smoked almonds, parmesan cheese and olive oil, so nothing goes to waste and you can enjoy the extra for days on sandwiches, in salad dressings, or dolloped on top of grilled fish or chicken.
It all begins in a food processor or high powdered blender, no heat required there — and with a quick pulse of your fingertips, you are off to the races in making this smoky pesto. After the pesto is whizzed up — it’s time to boil a bit of penne until al dente — 9 minutes or less. Then, toss-toss-toss until the entire salad is combined. Don’t skip the cherry tomatoes because they add a sweetness that a summer salad craves. I like to enjoy this salad at room temperature, but you can chill it down and serve it cold too. It also makes a great lunchtime treat to pack up and take to the park or beach — a place you’ll find me on this hot weekend ahead.
6 cups fresh basil
1 cup smoked almonds
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt + more for seasoning
12 ounces dried penne pasta
1 up cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- In a food processor, add basil and almonds. Pulse every times until coarse crumbs, about 30 seconds. Add garlic, lemon juice and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Pulse again until combined.
- Add 1 cup olive oil and salt, puree until chunky smooth. Spoon into a bowl, set aside.
- Boil pasta in salted water for 9 minutes, drain. After 10 minutes, add to a serving bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, toss to coat.
- Add 1 cup pesto (save remaining for other recipes, see above). Toss to coat pasta, add more olive oil if necessary to loosen.
- Add tomatoes and 2/3 parmesan cheese, toss. Add more salt, if necessary. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Enjoy!