Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

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I’m sticking with my tomato theme this week — why limit a good thing, right? This Bon Appetit recipe for Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto uses cherry tomatoes as a base for a non-basil related pesto — alongside walnuts, anchovies (trust me), garlic and Parmesan. I say trust me on the anchovies because people tend to feel squeamish about these little filets of flavor. And you’re right, I wouldn’t recommend eating one on its own. But these guys are the ones responsible for the great, funky undertone in food classics like Caesar salad dressing. It works the same way fish sauce works in Thai food — used sparingly, and you won’t be able to say “that’s anchovy,” but it adds depth and character. Using the tomatoes for a base makes for a pesto that’s a bit sweeter than what you’re probably used to, but it’s totally delicious and rich and I couldn’t stop eating it.

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IMG_7081And while the pesto doesn’t have basil involved, basil is added at the end of this dish in full leaf form, so you still get that great basil flavor, which cuts through the rest of the tastes beautifully.

TW’s Tips

  • Rather than toast the walnuts in the oven, I did it on the stovetop in a dry skillet — easier and you don’t have to heat up the whole oven.
  • When you buy basil, cut off the bottom of the sprigs and put it in a glass of water on your countertop. I can’t tell you how many bunches of basil I’ve had go bad in one day in the fridge despite my best efforts. This is the way to go — and if you get really fresh basil, it will last a long time — mine lasted two weeks!
  • If you don’t have spaghetti, any type of pasta will work

Enjoy!

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Spaghetti with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup walnuts
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • ½ cup (packed) basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool. (see TW tip for another option)

Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.

Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan and black pepper and drizzle with oil.

Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

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Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

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Meatless Monday? Yes! This spaghetti squash recipe from Food Network is a great one. While, let’s be honest, nothing can replace the love I have for lots and lots of pasta, spaghetti squash really does come close to imitating the look and feel of pasta’s starchy goodness. With a fresh, garlicky pesto covering it, you might even be able to fool a couple of people. (Kids? Fool the kids.)

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I was a little skeptical about this kale pesto, but I really like it. And it even makes a little extra you can save and put on salmon (or some real pasta, don’t lie) later in the week. And it’s even great reheated. Boom.

TW’s Tips

  • I had some pine nuts hanging around that I wanted to use up, so I substituted for the hazelnuts. Walnuts or almond would also work here, just make sure to toast them.
  • I skipped the raisins since I didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to bother with it, but I’m definitely curious about what that would add to this.
  • Make sure the squash is really done. It should feel soft when you flip it over on the baking sheet and the flesh should scrape easily into strands.
  • I had to add the liquid to the pesto in the food processor for it to really come together — the try ingredients were too dense.
  • I spent a few minutes staring questionably at the bins of squash in the grocery store when there were clearly butternut squash in the bin labeled spaghetti squash. I finally figured it out and yes, I was right. Spaghetti squash are yellow and usually oval in shape.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve and seed the spaghetti squash; roast face-down on a baking sheets at 400 degrees F until tender, 25 minutes; let cool slightly. Scrape the squash into strands with a fork. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Pulse the kale, parsley, garlic, raisins and 2 tablespoons of the toasted nuts in a blender or food processor until combined. Add 1/4 cup olive oil; blend until smooth. Add 1/3 cup water, the parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until the pesto comes together, adding up to 3 more tablespoons water to loosen, if necessary; season with more salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti squash and cook, stirring, until coated. Add 3/4 cup of the kale pesto. Stir to coat, adding up to 1/2 cup water to loosen; season with salt and pepper. Top the squash with the remaining toasted nuts and more parmesan.

Cook’s Note: Refrigerate the extra pesto up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Caprese Burgers

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Nothing beats an amazing burger.

I believe I get my love for burger from my mom, who is likely to order the burger on the menu no matter what restaurant we go to. She loves a good burger, and so do I. This is a good one — with a play on the caprese salad. Basil (in the form of pesto), tomato and mozzarella — all on a sweet brioche roll, melty and delicious. Recipe from Food & Wine. It’s a little rich, as you’d expect, but have a little salad on the side if you feel bad. Or do what I did and count the pesto as the green vegetable. Yep.

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TW’s Tips

  • I didn’t bother with the meat mix they recommend, but bet it’d be good
  • Use fresh mozz and you’ll be happy you did
  • Make some extra pesto for your next meal (it’s great on salmon, sandwiches, pasta, you name it)
  • This pesto uses almonds but feel free to use walnuts, pine nuts, etc.
  • Use a nice, thick layer of pesto — deliciousness

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted almonds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 slices
  • 6 brioche hamburger buns, split
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced

Directions

In a food processor, combine the basil with the almonds and garlic and pulse until the almonds are finely chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process to a paste. Add the grated Pecorino and pulse to combine. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. You should have about 1 cup.

Transfer 1/4 cup of the pesto to a bowl. Add the ground chuck and ground sirloin and a pinch of salt and gently knead to blend. Form the mixture into six 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burger patties lightly with olive oil.

Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill the burgers over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Flip the burgers, top them with the mozzarella slices and close the grill. Cook for 3 minutes longer for medium-rare burgers. Grill the buns until lightly toasted, then spread some of the pesto on the bottoms. Top with the burgers, the tomatoes and the remaining pesto. Close the burgers and serve right away.

The pesto can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Sausage and Pea Pesto Pasta

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As many of you know, it’s been 2-3 months of major life changes for me — new job, new city (New York!), cross-country move, new apartment, new practically everything! So needless to say it’s been a bit crazy around here, and I’m super delinquent on this blog. Here goes redeeming myself!

This is the first meal I made in NYC and a recipe I found on the Very Culinary blog — I was looking for something simple that didn’t require buying a ton of ingredients that I would have to move to a new apartment, but something that would still be delicious. Grocery shopping and meal-making is a whole new world in New York — forget hopping in your car and running to the massive Vons/Safeway/Trader Joe’s and carting out several bags worth of heavy groceries. You’re walking, you’re finding a nearby (small) grocery store, probably something independent that looks halfway promising, and you’re carrying what you buy home with you with your own two arms. It’s a great way to really make you rethink the impulse purchases. Quite the adventure!

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I ventured beyond the local market for this meal — I got all the ingredients at Chelsea Market, a veritable foodie heaven that is now only a few blocks away from my new apartment. (When I made this meal it was a subway ride and 15 minute walk — much more of a mission.) I will definitely be frequenting the place. The Italian market there is fabulous, and I used fresh made pesto, dried pasta straight from Italy and some amazing fresh sausage — even an Italian brand of frozen peas! It was simple but delicious — fresh, a little spicy and great reheated.

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TW’s Tips

  • I got fresh sausage from the meat counter, but packaged Jimmy Dean would work as well.
  • I recommend fresh pesto — you can find remarkably good pesto at Costco in the refrigerated section. I swear by it. Or hit your local Italian market. I’m NOT a big fan of jarred pesto.
  • Serve with crusty bread and salad.

Sausage and Pea Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium shell pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound seasoned pork sausage
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the shells to al dente texture, according to package instructions, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the pork and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon until no pink remains; about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Gently toss in the peas until warmed through.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the pesto until all the shells are coated. Stir in the sausage mixture until thoroughly combined. Ladle into bowls and serve right away.