Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Basil Pesto Pasta

In our rooftop garden, we grow tomatoes, chile, oregano, and basil in buckets.  Because winter is very mild where we live, we can grow a lot of the plants year-round.  We planted the basil last September, and it's still growing like crazy.  Yesterday I trimmed it back and ended up with about two cups of basil clippings.   Usually I dry what I trim and give it to friends, but this was a lot of basil.  I decided to make a pesto.

I found a tasty Pesto Pasta Salad recipe on Simply Recipes.  I didn't have all of the ingredients and neither did my local supermarket, so I did some substitutions and came up with the following pasta salad.

By far the oddest substitution must be the yogurt for parmesan cheese in the pesto.  Parmesan is very expensive in Mexico, and there's no adequate local substitute.  We make our own yogurt, and I had some in the kitchen that had been fermenting for a bit too long.  It was very, very sharp.  My husband was skeptical when he saw me at work in the kitchen, but he loved the end result, and I think you will, too.  Vegans can simply omit the yogurt entirely, or substitute it with a tablespoon of white or light miso.

We served this pasta with rustic bread and Basic Beans, Mexican Style for a very filling meal.


    • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
    • 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened yogurt OR 1 tablespoon light or white miso
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/3 cup almonds
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    (makes about 1 cup pesto)

    • 1/2 kilo (about 1 pound) uncooked penne or spiral pasta
    • 1 cups basil pesto (see recipe above)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped green olives OR olive tapenade
    • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
    • 3 plum or roma tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Prepare pasta according to package directions in salted water.
    2. While the pasta is cooking, combine all pesto ingredients in a blender and blend until basil leaves are pulverized and the almonds are chopped (don't worry if there's some almond chunks).
    3. When pasta is done cooking, drain.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot and add remaining ingredients.
    4. Serve warm or cold.
    Serves 6-8.

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