penne rigate with sun-dried tomato pesto

It’s recipes like this that make me love my food processor. Just throw everything in, press the button to smush it all up and serve. How could you not love the simplicity in that? It’s a magic machine.

So anyway…this recipe. Throw all your ingredients in the processor and come out with tangy, slightly sweet,very concentrated in flavor pesto. The rich red tomatoes lend a beautiful color to the pasta. It’s a pretty dish made even prettier by adding a little basil leaf as a garnish.

Penne Rigate with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (adapted from Giada DeLaurentis)
serves 3-4

12 oz. penne rigate (You can also use penne lisce, however I find that the pesto holds to the rigate better)
*8-9 oz. jar of sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (if you can only find dry tomatoes, then soak them in a jar of extra virgin olive oil at least one day before)
About a handful of basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
About a cup of reserved pasta water
About a 1/2 cup or more of Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil pasta in a pot of salted water until desired doneness. Reserve a cup of pasta water when done, drain the rest.
Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in Parmesan.
Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten.
Season with more Parmesan and pepper. 

*If you’re reluctant to use all of the oil from the tomato jar, only use 3/4 of it. As you process the mixture, taste-test and check the consistency to decide if you’d like to use more. Also keep in mind that the reserved pasta water will help loosen up the pesto a bit too.

Update: Try adding the juice and zest of 1 lemon, a few spoons of capers and its juice and a handful of walnuts. Flavor kick!

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