Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tomato-Almond Pesto

"Ugly" tomatoes make great pesto!
As farmers who grow tomatoes, we inevitably end up with a pile of blemished or damaged fruit after every tomato harvest.  Using them up quickly is important, unless we want an infestation of fruitflies, so I've accumulated a few standby recipes that work well with scratch-and-dented tomatoes.  This summery pesto is a good one (and it also works great with UNblemished tomatoes!).  I have also made it in the depths of winter with canned tomatoes, but when you use all fresh ingredients it's a whole different ball game.  See here for the original recipe (well, the original adaptation I guess), which pairs it with linguine.  The farm baby and her mama have also been known to just eat it with a spoon.

A note: Many commenters to the recipe say that this freezes well.  I haven't tried it, but I pass that along as I am a big believer in freezing things for wintertime!

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet magazine

makes somewhere between 2 and 4 cups, depending on the size of your tomatoes

3/4 cup slivered almonds (I used blanched whole almonds and they worked OK too)
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 grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

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.

Serve: tossed with warm pasta, spread on pizza or crusty bread, as a salad dressing, dolloped on scrambled eggs, in a bowl with a spoon...

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