See, my mom first introduced it to me by way of simply dumping a container of store-bought pesto onto a box's worth of cooked pasta. That right there was heaven. I had no idea what exactly pesto was except some delicious green stuff Mom put on pasta, but I knew I loved it. I remember the first time I actually saw the container, and I asked my mom if I could have a spoonful. Naturally she said no, but I found other ways to get my pesto fix.
Namely, in a delicious creation by yours truly. See, you take store-bought potato bread, slather both sides with pesto, layer a couple slices of bologna between them and chow down. If I could find organic bologna and a good potato-bread recipe, I'd totally make this again. It's that good.
Nowadays we drive to see my grandparents in Maine during the summer, because it's cheaper than flying (even with the gas prices, apparently). But we used to fly to an airport in New Hampshire, and then my gramps would pick us up and drive us the rest of the way. Flying would be an all-day affair - we'd get to the airport super-early, check in all our stuff, and hang around for a while at the airport. By the time we'd get to the airport in NH, it'd be dinnertime, so my gramps would pack sandwiches for us to eat on the drive. He'd call my mom up about a week before to see what he should make. The summer of the year I discovered my special sandwich, I requested a "bologna with pesto on potato bread" sandwich.
When it came time to eat this sandwich, however, I opened the little sandwich baggie and noticed something red. Red did not belong on my sandwich, and it freaked me out. I slowly peeled the top slice of bread away from the rest of the sandwich and was horrified to find some red goop all over the bread and bologna instead of my lovely green goop. Disgusted, I put it back in the sandwich bag and refused to eat it. Oh, and I threw a big fit about it, too, because I was hungry. I asked my gramps what the red stuff was and he said, "pesto". I knew he was crazy to think this, because pesto was green. Then it was somehow determined that my pesto was made out of some kind of tomato. Ewww, right?
I probably would have liked the sandwich if I'd bothered to try it, but I was one stubborn kid. I sat with my arms crossed, staring at the baggie slowly finding its way under the seat in front of me, thinking about how unfair life was and how gross this so-called "sun-dried tomato pesto" was.
This event was so traumatic that I never had a sun-dried tomato until 2009. Yeah, I know.
And I'm here today to tell you this - sun-dried tomatoes aren't that bad. In fact, they're a little delicious.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
(Recipe by Mo, with inspiration from Eating Well)
12 (dry) sun-dried tomato halves (I use Whole Foods' brand of sun-dried tomatoes, which are preserved with salt instead of artificial preservatives.)
1/4 cup pepitas
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup frozen peas, cooked (measured while frozen)
1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper (or standard crushed red pepper)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt, if needed (mine didn't but if you're using tomatoes without salt then add about 1/4 tsp)
Place the tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling/hot water. I used water reserved from a pot of pasta I boiled for the veggie salad. Let sit while you prepare all of the other ingredients.
Pan-toast the pepitas over medium-high, shaking the pan constantly. They're done when golden-brown and popping. Does anyone else think that they start smelling like Italian sausage at this point?
When the tomatoes are soft, remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl of your food processor along with all of the ingredients except the EVOO, lemon juice and soaking liquid.
Blend the ingredients as much as you can, scraping down the sides. Finally, with the machine running, pour in the oil and lemon juice. By the tablespoon, pour in the soaking liquid from your tomatoes (I used about 5) until the pesto has reached your desired consistency. Taste, season with salt as necessary, and serve.
I used all of the pesto as the dressing for a pasta salad:
1 (13.5 oz) box whole-grain rotini pasta
1 English (seedless) cucumber
1 US dry pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
9 average-sized scallions (1 bunch)
Fresh baby spinach, chopped and lightly cooked
Any veggies you'd like (I'dve liked to have added broccoli for example but the store's selection was sub-par)
One batch of the above sun-dried tomato pesto
Cook the pasta in salted water, drain and rinse with water to remove the starch.
Chop all of the veggies however you'd like and combine in a large bowl with the pasta and the pesto. Enjoy!
|You can't see the tomatoes, but I promise they're there. See the spot of red under the piece of pasta near the bean patty? That's a tomato, I swear.|
The verdict: the pesto is amazing. I was actually kind of surprised by how good this stuff tastes, but it's delicious. This was my first time using sun-dried tomatoes in a pesto that didn't also incorporate basil and spinach, so I was a little nervous that the flavor would be too overwhelming. It wasn't at all! The flavor is actually very mellow and complemented by the tartness of the lemon. And of course it went fantastically with the veggie pasta salad. :)
I'm sorry for my absence around here lately, but I have a couple of good posts in store. Including one in which I share how to make something quite unique. ;)