Pasta with Mint Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes

September 4, 2010

Aunt Suzy says

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Italian Country Table by Lynn Rossetto Kasper.  It’s another no-cook pasta sauce recipe, although not quite as fast and easy as the one we recently posted.  I love cooking with mint and this recipe blends mint and 3 kinds of nuts into a course pesto that is just delicious.  I just peeked into the cookbook before writing this post and saw that the original recipe uses string pasta of some sort (linguine, spaghetti or buccatini).  I recall the first time I made it, I decided that I would use small pasta shapes in the future.  But I would not dissuade anyone from making it with string-style pasta!  As with a lot of these fresh pasta dishes, it goes really well with a flavorful pinot grigio or a dry rose wine.

Margaux says

I just made this dish last night, and it was fantastic!!  I love the nutty flavor of the pesto, and the freshness of the mint!  And super easy, like Suzy says.  I think it would also be good served with some grilled salmon or chicken, especially if you’re feeding more than 4 people.  We had it with a simple green salad, and it was a perfect summer dinner!

The Pesto

1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted

1/2 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts, toasted

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

1-2 cloves garlic

pinch (or more!) hot red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

Mix the cooled toasted nuts.  Coarsely chop about 1/4 of the nuts and set aside.  Process the remaining nuts, the mint, garlic and red pepper in a food processor to a very coarse meal texture.  Slowly add the olive oil and process until blended and a little smoother.  This will not be as creamy as a classic basil pesto.  NOTE:  I have a mini-Cuisinart and recommend to first chop the nuts before processing with the rest of the ingredients if that is what you will use.  It had a hard time with all those whole nuts!

The No-Cook Sauce and Pasta

1 pound small pasta (fusilli, cavatappi, penne, etc.)

3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered OR 3 1/2 cups seeded and chopped large tomatoes

The mint pesto

The reserved chopped nuts

1/4 cup sliced mint leaves (if large)

Cook the pasta according to directions, reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water after done and then drain the pasta.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot and toss with the pesto, adding enough cooking liquid to make a creamy sauce.  Add a little at a time to make sure it doesn’t go beyond creamy to runny.  Toss with the tomatoes and stir to blend.  Toss in the chopped nuts and mint for garnish.

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