Fusilli with pesto and roasted tomatoes
Americans discovered the delights of pesto in the eighties and have never looked back. Despite all the variations, classic basil pesto remains the most beloved, and pine nuts are the authentic pairing for the vivid herb. The nuts - the edible seeds of pine trees also called piñons or pignoli - have a slightly astringent, piney taste which is mellowed by the parmesan and olive oil. We add pasta water to our pesto to limit the oil. It's a great, starchy addition that helps to bind the pesto without weighing it down like additional oil might. You can make extra pesto to keep on hand for future meals. Freeze it in ice cube trays for individual doses to use for up to a month.
8 medium, halved lengthwise
2 cup(s), leaves, packed
⅛ tsp, freshly ground, or to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Place the tomato halves, cut-side up, in a medium shallow baking dish; drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over them. Roast the tomatoes until slightly browned on top but still firm, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Pulse the basil, cheese, nuts, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and the pepper in a food processor; scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, then pulse a few more times until the ingredients are well blended and have formed a coarse, bright green paste.
- Meanwhile, cook the fusilli according to package directions. Drain, reserving 11⁄2 tablespoons of the cooking water, and place in a warmed serving bowl. Stir the cooking water into the pesto; then add to pasta and toss to coat. Arrange the roasted tomatoes on top. Serve hot or at room temperature. Yields 1 cup pasta with 2 tomato halves per serving.
In our recipe, we’ve added garden-ripe tomatoes. Make this dish in the summer; you need really fresh tomatoes and basil to make it sing. You can also make the pesto up to a week ahead, substituting hot tap water for the cooking water. Place it in a small airtight container just large enough to hold the pesto, lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto, seal the container, and refrigerate.