Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Reader Entry: Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

My first Reader Entry is from my mother, who wanted to share her Tomato Pesto recipe. I have been a fan of pesto ever since I first tasted it. It was basil pesto, the one people usually think of, but pesto can be made with sun-dried tomatoes instead. Like fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes are highly fragrant and make for an intense flavor experience. Nuts and oil are added to bind it together. Usually you'll see pine nuts used, but sometimes cashews or almonds instead. The fun is in experimenting to find out what combination you like best.

Sun-dried tomatoes can be found two ways: dried, or packed in olive oil. If you use them dried, you'll need to take some and immerse them in very hot water for several hours to rehydrate them. The dried variety are more economical but the oil packed variety are usually more flavorful. That's because herbs are also often added to the oil for extra zing. You can make your own oil-packed tomatoes: just rehydrate them in olive oil (use regular "pure olive oil" here and not the "extra virgin") and the herbs of your choosing. Let them sit for a few days or weeks and then enjoy. Either way, if you hydrate them in oil or water, reserve some of the soaking liquid for when you whirl everything together. You may need to add a little of it later to thin it out.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto a la Mama

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
a few basil leaves
3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place tomatoes in a bowl and pour enough hot water over them to just cover. Meanwhile, roast nuts in a dry saute pan until slightly browned. Remove from heat to cool.

Place tomatoes, nuts, garlic, cheese and basil in food processor and process till just smooth. With processor on, add olive oil a little bit at a time until it reaches the consistency of a paste. If it's still too thick but you'd rather not add more oil use a little water instead (a Tbsp. at a time) and only enough until you get the consistency right. You don't want it too thick but you definitely don't want it too thin and you don't want it too oily.

Ideas for using tomato pesto:

Add to cooked linguine and toss, then add a small handful of chopped fresh tomatoes on top and garnish with basil leaves. Or, spread pesto onto crackers for an appetizer, or onto sliced bread for a real flavor boost to a boring old sandwich.

Sun-dried tomato pesto adds a powerful flavor punch to many dishes.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Print Friendly