Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pasta with Almond Pesto

You might think I've gone a bit batty, making pesto two nights in a row. But tonight pesto plays a much more central role in the dish, and it's a completely different kind of pesto. I was going to make a recipe from my beloved Splendid Table cookbook, but ended up improvising and taking it in a whole other direction. The flavors in this pasta are far from bland, my friends. You don't really need any side dish or salad to go along with this one. It stands alone.

The directions are meant to be loosely followed. I didn't take notes while I cooked, I just sort of threw in a dash of this and a splash of that. I'll try to replicate it here. But the idea is to go heavy on the ingredients you're particularly fond of, and a bit lighter on the ones you want to just add a little undertone to the meal. So feel free to change proportions.

Pasta with Almond Pesto
serves 2-3


1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
a generous handful of fresh chives, torn in half
a less generous handful of basil leaves
1/2 cup almonds (toasted or not; I did a combination of the two)
1 or 2 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Drop in the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the starchy cooking water before you drain the pasta.

2. While pasta is cooking, toss a pinch of salt, pepper to taste, garlic, chives, basil, and almonds into a food processor. Process just until ground and then stream in EVOO with processor running. You want a fairly chunky pesto, so don't get it completely smooth.

3. After you drain the pasta, return it to the hot pot. Add the pesto and the starchy cooking liquid, and stir vigorously until pesto is evenly distributed throughout the pasta. Add in most, but not all, of the cheese and stir. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Couldn't get much easier than that! And yet it's quite different from your average pesto pasta. Enjoy.

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