Pasta with vegan pesto and roasted tomatoes

I feel like a broken record here but work has been crazy, I haven’t had time to post, it’s been a month since I shared a new recipe and somehow it’s almost the end of July…

…Wait. What!!??

It’s complete madness! I can’t remember a summer that’s gone faster.

It might have something to do with the fact that I am currently living in a studio apartment with another human being and counting down the hours until we move into a proper one bedroom in September.

Although normally waiting for something to happen makes time go slower, right?

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I also foolishly underwent a juice cleanse recently, which may also explain the lack of new recipes

I don’t know what’s going on with time these days. What I do know is that even though life has been crazy between moving, traveling, planning a wedding and holding down a job, I have found time to cook some delicious things!

And I’ll try my hardest to be better about sharing them.

So, remember how I recently said that my recipe for fajita chicken bowls was the best thing I had ever cooked? (You probably don’t because it was a very long time ago.)

Well, I need to retract that statement because this recipe I’m about to share is actually quite possibly the best thing I have ever made.

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And it was a total accident, one of those meals that happens when you have extra basil in your fridge from making a tomato basil salad, and you think you can make your favorite avocado pesto but the avocado is hard as a rock (seriously, I have never encountered a less ripe avocado and the fruit stand man told me it was “ready to eat,” pshhh) and so you fudge your way through a vegan pesto you remember making a while back and then you realize you have cherry tomatoes and you recently made Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for pasta salad with roasted tomatoes (which you also forgot to share with your blog audience, shame on you) and so you roast those and toss them in and the whole thing comes together into one glorious, satisfying, summery dish.

That’s happened to you before, right? I’m sorry. I realize that may be a lot to digest so let me start with the tomatoes.

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The trick is that you lay them side by side on a baking sheet (no overlaps!) and cook them at 300 degrees for 90 minutes. Yes, 90 minutes. Believe me, it is so, so worth it because they shrivel but retain some juiciness and the sugar in the tomatoes causes them to almost caramelize a bit and – Deb said it first but I can confirm – they turn into what can only be described as tomato candy.

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It’s actually very hard to incorporate them into a dish because you end up eating most of them off the baking sheet before you can add them in.

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Also, I’ve finally cracked the code on vegan pesto. I used to shy away from doing a one-to-one swap of parmesan for nutritional yeast because, well, let’s just face it: nutritional yeast is a bit funky. But the thing is, you really need to use enough to get the right consistency, otherwise you’re just eating oily basil. And if you use a large clove of garlic, it totally masks the funk!

That being said, if you aren’t allergic to dairy feel free to sub the yeast for actual parmesan. I’m not even jealous because I’ve reached a scary, enlightened state and become one of those freaks who thinks dairy substitutes actually taste good.

I never thought I’d see the day and yet here I am! Then again, who can blame me when the result tastes this good?

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Confession: The above photos are from the first time I made roasted tomatoes, which is why they are a dramatically different color than the ones you see here

Pasta with vegan pesto and roasted tomatoes
(Tomato recipe from Smitten Kitchen, pesto adapted from Eating Well)

Serves 2 generously, probably 3 people with more reasonable appetites and less inclination to drown their pasta in pesto

Note: Believe it or not, Deb actually bumped down the cooking time for the tomatoes I made in that pasta salad, recipe linked above, and then duplicated for this recipe. The original recipe calls for baking them at 225 degrees for 3 hours. I haven’t tried that but given my infatuation with these tomatoes, I will probably try soon. Maybe tomorrow.

For the pesto:
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta of your choosing

For the tomatoes:
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat if you have one. Arrange tomatoes cut side up so that none are overlapping. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 90 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure any smaller ones aren’t burning. When they’re done, they will be shriveled and dry but not fully dehydrated. Let cool.

To prepare the pesto, add basil, garlic, pistachios and nutritional yeast to a blender or food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the machine still running, drizzle in olive oil until it reaches pesto consistency, about 1/4 cup.

Taste and add salt and pepper if needed (although if you’re using real cheese, it probably won’t be needed).

Prepare your favorite pasta. Toss with pesto and tomatoes and serve.

You can store any leftover tomatoes in a sealed container, drizzling a little olive oil over them before sealing to retain moistness.

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