This was a quick and refreshing dinner. And by quick, I mean quick. In the time it takes to cook the pasta, this meal is done and delicious. A summery meal in the middle of winter is always a nice change. Especially if, by some miracle, the basil plant that you came so close to killing is still hanging on for dear life. Don’t ask me how – this is the same basil plant that turned a lovely shade of greenish yellow earlier in the summer. Only after a long talk with the plant-guru at the farmers’ market nursery and a soil change per his recommendations did this plant begin to thrive. And by thrive I mean explode. It definitely slowed down when we brought it inside this winter, and I was expecting it to last a few weeks and slowly die off. But nope. It’s still going, still growing, and even threatened to flower on us a few times. Go figure.
Needless to say, fresh basil makes this recipe. It’s a twist on the typical pesto, with the addition of almonds and tomatoes. One pot, a food processor, 15 minutes, and you’re done. Aren’t those the best kind of meals?
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 large garlic cloves
Several sprinkles of sea salt
6 ripe plum tomatoes
Handful of grated Pecorino cheese (about 1/2 cup)
A generous splash of olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
1 pound linguine
Saute the almonds in a little olive oil until tan.
Put basil, garlic, and salt in food processor and chop. Put aside.
Put in almonds and pulse until size of orzo.
Put tomatoes, almonds, basil garlic, cheese, and olive oil back in food processor and whir briefly. Add some fresh-ground coarse pepper.
Boil linguine. If you are Sicilian, become hysterical at the prospect of overcooked pasta. Break open a strand every 60 seconds, and when there is one tiny white speck at the center, drain instantly. Save a cupful of pasta water.
Put pasta in with pesto and mix quickly. Add a little pasta water if necessary. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.