Basil and Parsley Pesto on Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

It’s been a tomato takeover in my food-related news feed the last few weeks. There have been amazing recipes posted all over including this delicious looking grilled bread with ricotta and tomatoes and a post titled “Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes!“.  Being someone who is easily influenced by gorgeous photos and recipes I was immediately (seriously, immediately) ready to eat handfuls of summer tomatoes. It was too hot to turn on the oven to get a good roasted tomato going so I decided on some fresh pesto pasta as the most perfect vehicle for fresh juicy tomatoes.

Not only is pesto incredibly easy to turn-out, it also lasts for awhile, freezes well, and is great on oh-so-many-food-things…and spoons. Spoonfuls of pesto are awesome too.

My favorite pesto to make is a couple steps away from strictly traditional but it’s equally tasty. First off, I don’t use pine nuts anymore because a few months back my main man got pine mouth after eating some at home and it lasted for almost two weeks Everything he ate tasted metallic and pretty terrible so I use them infrequently now. Instead I’ve started using toasted walnuts which make a great substitute.

I’m also not a basil purist. I love fresh basil but I like to mix things up in pesto by throwing in a big handful of parsley. Parsley has that fresh spring taste, it’s a little peppery, and adds a delicious layer of flavor.
Once the herbs are dry I throw them into the food processor with the nuts, 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice (also not super traditional), some parmesan or pecorino romano (I’ll use either), and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Now that you have a big beautiful bowl of pesto it’s time to put it on something. I opted for pasta but it would be perfect slathered on a nice thick piece of toast and tomatoes layered on top, on a pizza crust, in eggs, or any other carb or starch-loaded things you have in the kitchen.

About the pasta- I always have a box or two in the house because it is hands down the fastest way to go from “I want to eat pasta” to actually eating pasta but sometimes I’d really prefer homemade pasta which has a totally different texture and quality. Before the eye rolls start getting sent my way you should know making pasta by hand isn’t all that time consuming (add another 30-40 minutes to the process) or difficult and the results are OH WOW THIS IS SO GOOD. So I made some pasta.

Awhile back I invested in the KitchenAid pasta attachments when I stumbled on a great price. While the traditional hand crank pasta machine is usually perfect, I found that as a lefty I struggle way more than my righty counterparts in coordinating rolling and holding the dough. Using the attachments probably speeds everything up a bit. I’m also using the mixing bowl from the stand mixer the bring the ingredients (egg, flour, water, salt…yup that’s all) together before hand kneading to save on clean-up.

I’ll write a more in depth pasta post in the future but here are the highlights:

PictureThe kneaded dough ball

PictureRolling out sheets of dough (I roll these to 7)

PictureVery salted boiling water and making a vortex in it just before throwing in pasta

PicturePost-knead the dough gets wrapped in a disc to rest

PictureCut pasta on parchment paper and tossed with flour

PictureFresh pasta take so little time cook! I usually test about a minute in and never let it stay in longer than 2 min.

Once the pasta was done I tossed it with the pesto and then cut up the beautiful tomatoes to top it. The tomatoes added a sweetness and an amazing texture to each bite. It was a bowl that tasted like summer.

*NOTE: Here’s the first recipe I’m posting and here’s where you learn that I’m not a recipe writer.

People have asked me for recipes for years and I don’t have the patience (or will) to figure out how much of a spice or oil I’m adding. I will use the words “about” and “not more than” and “to taste”. I’m not aiming to send perfected recipes out into the world since I’m usually the person who takes the perfected recipe and then edits it to my own taste while cooking. Instead, I want to write about flavors, seasonal foods, techniques, and using ingredients in different and delicious ways. If you’re planning to cook what I post here get ready to taste a ton. Some recipes will be more specific than others and I promise to never post something that wasn’t truly awesome.

Now back to the food:

Basil Parsley Pesto with Walnuts
Ingredients
  • 2 cups mixed basil and parsley leaves** I used a little more basil than parsley (Maybe 1 and ⅓ Basil to ⅔ Parsley)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil (maybe a little more or less)
  • ¼-1/3 cup of shredded pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, I really like either.
Instructions
  1. Pull the basil leaves off the stems and grab the tops of the parsley- some parsley stem is fine- and thoroughly wash and dry.
  2. Throw the greens, garlic, and walnuts in the food processor and blend till they look coarsely chopped. Add lemon juice and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Keep an eye on it - you can always add more oil but if you go over it'll be difficult to edit.
  3. I like to add the cheese now and taste for salt (I primarily use kosher salt in cooking) and pepper and then give it one more spin in the food processor. You can also mix in the seasonings and cheese by hand if you prefer.
  4. Eat immediately or save it to use later. You've probably seen the ice cube tray method and/or just use an airtight container. Either way make sure to add a little extra olive oil on the top before putting it in the freezer to keep that bright beautiful green color intact. Then whenever the mood strikes..pesto!
Notes
**Every pesto recipe starts with x number of cups of "packed" basil leaves. I am still not sure what this really means. I usually take a measuring cup that holds 2 cups and start shoving the greens in but not too tightly. I know that's about as helpful as "packed" but I just still haven't figured it out.