I love when I try a new recipe, and it is an instant success with everyone in my house. This sun-dried tomato pesto recipe is definitely one of those recipes. It also gets extra points for being super easy. I saw Giada de Laurentiis make it on the Food Network several years ago, and I finally got around to making it a few months ago, and boy am I glad I did. It has become a part of our regular rotation! All of us enjoy this one, including the sometimes picky toddler. I take some out before adding any salt for my 9 month old, and she enjoys it as well.
That's right! Only 6 ingredients to make this pesto. And it is a cinch to make! All you have to do is put the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (Get the ones packed in olive oil. This is very important as you do not add any extra olive oil to the pesto, so this is what will make your sauce.), basil, garlic cloves (I grate mine into the food processor just to make sure there are no large chunks of garlic.), salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend until it is all finely chopped and pesto consistency. **Note: I puree the tomatoes, basil, and garlic together then take a small spoonful out for my baby since I do not like for her to have added salt. I then add in the salt and pepper and pulse to combine. After it is all blended, add in the parmesan cheese and stir it all together. That's it! Now you have a delicious pesto and a decent amount of it at that! The original recipe calls for tossing all of the pesto with 12 ounces of pasta, and I made it that way the first time. It was delicious, but it left big globs of pesto in our pasta, and it seemed very wasteful that way. Now I simply toss an entire 16 ounce box of cooked pasta with the pesto and some pasta water a little at a time until I get it as coated in the pesto as I like it. Then I save the rest of the pesto for another use. You can make fresh pasta and toss the remaining pesto with it for a quick meal later in the week, you can spread it on sandwiches, use it as a pizza topping (this is one of my favorite uses for it), or even add it to scrambled eggs! I have frozen extras with good results as well.
On this particular evening, I was planning on eating later in the evening with my husband when he got home from work, so I decided to cook up some whole wheat rotini for the babies. (Yes, my almost 3-year-old is still a baby in my mind.) I drained most of the pasta when it was al dente since my son is used to eating it this way and left a very small amount to cook longer (until very soft) for my 9 month old who only has 2 teeth.
I cut the rotini in half for my son and serve it up. He loves it! Notice that there is a fork on the plate...this fork is just for show as my son refuses to use it. All foods are finger foods to my little boy.
This is one of his very favorite meals. He calls it "red noodles." Actually, this time it was "red twisty noodles" since I served it with rotini. I was surprised at how much he liked it when he first tried it since he used to only eat pasta plain with butter. This pesto has actually opened him up to trying pasta with other sauces on it, which is great. I usually make this with penne pasta, so then it is "red tube noodles." Also, I usually serve it with a veggie and some cheese. Below I served it with peas and some mozzarella cheese. Today I just gave him a stick of colby jack cheese after he finished his pasta, and I didn't make an extra vegetable. What can I say? Sometimes I'm on top of my game, and other times I'm not.
My little girl eats everything. I served her noodles with some shredded mozzarella cheese on the side. She loves cheese, so she ate all of that before she even tried the pasta.
And just to show you how much my toddler approves of this meal, here's a picture of him with his clean plate, and he happily ate every bite without complaining. That's high praise coming from him.
For my husband and myself, I cooked up a package of campanelle. I was concerned the toddler might not like those, since he sometimes will not eat new shapes of pasta. I was wrong, and he ended up eating so much off of my plate that I had to make him a second plate of pasta.
I can't express enough what a great recipe this is! Easy, delicious, and approved by my entire family! What more could you want?! Here's the recipe. Go buy the stuff and make it tomorrow. You won't be disappointed!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Recipe based on this one by Giada de Laurentiis
16 ounces short-cut pasta (penne and campanelle work very well)
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Stir in the Parmesan.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Add the pesto to the pasta, a little at a time, and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Add more pesto as needed. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve topped with more grated Parmesan!
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