Spaghetti with Almond and Tomato Pesto

Yet another fast, delicious and simple recipe from Claudia Roden’s ‘The Food of Italy’.

The key to this dish is the tomatoes: obtain the ripest, freshest most aromatic tomatoes you can find, the results will make your taste buds tap-dance.

I find that the amount of sauce made from this recipe is twice the amount that you need to feed four people (as a main dish), but it doesn’t work as well if you halve the ingredients. So, make it as is and freeze half – it freezes really well and loses almost nothing as long as you use it within a couple of weeks.

To make it vegan choose wholewheat pasta and omit the Parmesan.

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RECIPE serves 4

500g ripe tomatoes

75g blanched almonds

3 fat garlic cloves, crushed

a large handful of basil leaves

1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

100 ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp caster sugar

400g spaghetti (or linguine or bucatini)

finely grated Parmesan to serve, if liked


METHOD

At least an hour before you plan to eat, make the pesto: leave the tomato skins on, but remove the hard white pit where the stalk sits. Quarter the tomatoes and add to a food processor with the almonds, garlic, basil and chilli flakes. Blend to a rough puree.

Add the oil, sugar and a generous pinch of salt, blend briefly then tip into a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature until you need to use it.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, but not too thoroughly, leave a little of the cooking water clinging to the pasta. Check the seasoning of the sauce, then toss the pasta and sauce together. Finish with a generous grinding of black pepper.

Some people (like me) like to finish this dish with a little finely grated Parmesan, others (like my wife) prefer to savour this dish as it is – try it both ways and see which you prefer.

Serve alongside a simple salad of rocket leaves dressed with freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

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