We are dragging this summer out. Maybe it’s because as far as I am concerned, it didn’t really start until August, when the bulk of the heat wave was behind us and we willingly ventured outside of our air-conditioned caves again, and when we finally took a little family vacation. Maybe it’s because if it is still summer, the baby is still a baby and not a one year-old toddler as he will be after this weekend. But it is most likely because we headed down the Garden State Parkway to Exit 0 last weekend for a belated 5 year anniversary mini-vacation without said baby and somehow, well into September, still got sun, sand and freckles. Summer in September? I’ll take it.
Despite the fact that the calendar may suggest fall clothes and butternut squash, the markets are still flooded with tomatoes. But, honestly, it wasn’t a sense of practicality that led me to this recipe. I mean sure, I had almonds, I also had precisely six plum tomatoes that needed to get eaten and I even had the slim margin of time needed to throw this together before starting the surprisingly exhausting dinner-bath-bed cycle for the boo. But that’s still not why I made it.
I made this recipe because a line in the recipe — “If you are Sicilian, become hysterical at the prospect of overcooked pasta. Break open a strand every 60 seconds, and when there is one tiny white speck at the center, drain instantly.” — cracked me up so much that despite the fact that I am clearly not Sicilian (though I share the aversion to gummy, overcooked pasta, though mine stems from Chef-Boy-R-Dee type school lunches) I could literally hear the mother on the phone to her daughter, dictating this recipe. It made me feel that I was in a room full of people I liked, and we were about to tuck in for a great late-summer meal. There are worse reasons to cook, right?
One year ago: Chcolate Pudding Pie and Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini
Two years ago: Braised Romano Beans
Three years ago: Tortilla de Patatas and Chocolate Babka
Four years ago: Key Lime Tartlets and Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto [Pesto Trapenese]
Adapted from Gourmet
3/4 cup (85 grams) slivered almonds
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 large garlic cloves
Several sprinkles of sea salt
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup (50 grams) grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1/4 to 1/3 cup (60 to 80 ml) olive oil
1 pound (455 grams) linguine
In a large skillet, sauté the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are in coarse pieces. (“The size of orzo,” the original recipe suggests.) Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.
Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground black pepper.
Cook your linguine until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot linguine with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve this lukewarm, or at room temperature, with a glass of wine, after you get the baby to bed.