Mains Recipes

Red Pesto Rigatoni

There is hardly a week passing by without cooking pasta at home. Such a quick and easy meal. Just a few ingredients and a few minutes prep and cooking time and a steaming, fragrant magic is ready to serve. I admit, cooking a pasta is within everyone’s ability. But how to cook pasta like a real Italian is a slightly different matter. There are plenty of ready made pasta sauces on offer, but once you know how to make your own deliciousness, you will never ever spare the time to make your own proud creation.

Today, I am making a simple rigatoni with sun-dried tomato pesto sauce. Rich, luscious, robust pesto packed with sweet, tart sun-dried tomatoes and studded with aromatic fresh basil, sweet roasted red bell peppers, buttery pine nuts and salty parmesan. Insanely quick and easy to make, this homemade tomato pesto is the perfect versatile condiment to have on hand in your kitchen! Use it to jazz up pastas, soups and pizza, or spread it on sandwiches and toast! No matter how you use this pesto, I promise you will never go back to store-bought pesto ever again!

Once my rigatoni are ready I mix them with the red pesto sauce. The smell is amazing. But my pasta is not quite finished yet. To serve, I select a deep plate and next to the pasta add a mozzarella burrata, half-dry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and fresh oregano and basil leaves. Only when the ball of burrata is pierced and its juices run into the pesto sauce I am ready to have a bite. A real, rich and gratifying perfection, enhanced by the sweet-sharp taste of the half-dry tomatoes and the nutty flavour of the pine nuts. I can only sit, close my eyes and enjoy every single bitе.

Ingredients

For the Red Pesto

  • 1 Jar Sun-Dried Tomatoes packed in oil – tomatoes removed from oil & oil reserved
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – peeled
  • 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cup Roasted Red Peppers from jar
  • ¼ cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts
  • ¼ heaping tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/3 cup Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For Serving

  • Mozarella Burrata
  • A handful of roasted pine nuts
  • Half-dry tomatoes
  • Fresh oregano and basil leaves

Method

1. Set a deep pot filled with water over a medium heat. Once the water starts boiling add the pasta, a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil and mix well. Leave the pasta to boil until ready.
2. In the meantime, prepare the red pesto. Add the raw nuts to a small skillet. Place skillet over medium-low heat and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and slightly golden around the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer the toasted nuts to the bowl of a food processor.
3. To the bowl of the food processor, add the tomatoes (not the oil), garlic, cheese, red peppers, basil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely chopped and uniform in size, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add ¼ cup of oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. Pulse until ingredients are minced. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, stream in enough olive oil until the mixture has a slightly smooth, but still chunky, pesto-like consistency. Taste and adjust pesto for seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. One the pasta is ready, rinse the excess water and bring the pasta back to the same pot. Add the red pesto and mix well.
5. Serve generous portions of pasta and red pesto sauce, add a few half-dry tomatoes, mozzarella burrata, toasted pine nuts and fresh oregano and basil leaves.


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