Tomato Almond Pesto with Spaghetti
If you're racing in next week's Pittsburgh marathon or half-marathon, you're probably starting to think about pasta. Carbs are a terrific source of energy -- and you need lots of it to power through 13.1 or 26.2 miles.
This super-fresh, super-easy dish comes from celebrity chef/restaurateur Lidia Bastianich's latest children's book, "Nonna's Birthday Surprise," in which she shares memories (and seasonal recipes) of growing up on the family farm in Istria.
2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
12 large fresh basil leaves
2 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino (pepper flakes) or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for pasta
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, freshly grated
Rinse cherry tomatoes and pat dry. Rinse basil leaves and pat dry.
Drop tomatoes into blender jar or food processor bowl, followed by garlic cloves, almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree; scrape down bowl and blend again if any large pieces have survived.
With machine running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the puree into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. Leave pesto at room temperature if you'll be using in a few hours; you also can refrigerate for up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.
Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente, drain and reserve cooking water. Scrape pesto into a large bowl. Drop drained spaghetti onto pesto. Toss quickly to coat, adding a ladle or two of the pasta water if needed. Sprinkle on the cheese, and toss again. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
-- "Nonna's Birthday Surprise: Lidia's Family Kitchen" by Lidia Bastianich (Running Press, April 2013, $16.95)
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.