Persian Basil & Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta Bake

Say that five times fast!

Oh, Pesto.  Summer would not be summer without fresh pesto.  Don’t you agree? 

pesto pasta 2

This is all that’s left from last night’s dinner. We all went back for seconds, maybe even thirds (shhh, don’t tell anyone)

As soon as we got Persian Basil at the market I knew I wanted to make pesto. I have a Sweet Basil plant on my balcony but Persian Basil is different. If you’ve never tried it, stop reading this post right now and go get some (then come back and make this pasta!). It has a wonderfully subtle lemony/spicy taste to it, which makes it perfect for a dish like this. 

And tomatoes. Oh, tomatoes.  I love summer produce. We’ve talked about how much I adore roasted tomatoes, right?  If you’ve never thought to blend them right into your pesto, you’re definitely missing out.  Don’t worry though, this recipe will fix that for you. 🙂 

pesto pasta 3

And if fresh tomatoes and basil weren’t enough, I added fresh ricotta cheese to the mix.  The market gets its cheese from a local dairy and let me tell you, once you try fresh ricotta, you’ll never go back.  I’ve warned you. 

I also added sauteed cremini mushrooms, because why the heck not? 

pesto pasta 4

OK, OK, enough drooling. Time to cook!

PERSIAN BASIL & ROASTED TOMATO PESTO PASTA BAKE

Serves 6-8 (or 3-4 very hungry people) 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Whole Wheat Chiocciole Pasta (or other pasta shape of your choice)

2 large Heirloom Tomatoes*, sliced

~1 lb Cremini Mushrooms, chopped 

4 oz Persian Basil**, leaves removed from the stems 

2 cloves Garlic

1 tsp Sea Salt (I used Garlic Sea Salt)

1 tsp Pepper

1 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded and separated in two portions (I use this delicious one)

~1/2 cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus about a tablespoon for the pan

8 oz Ricotta Cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roast your tomatoes. (You may want to do this the day before or the morning of and let the tomatoes sit in your fridge for a while. The leftover olive oil from roasting will mix with the tomato and create a nice little juice for the pesto). 

When the tomatoes are done roasting, turn your oven down to 350 degrees. 

Meanwhile,  cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside. 

Heat ~1 TBSP of olive oil in a medium sauce pan, add mushrooms and saute until soft, around 5 minutes. 

For the pesto, mix basil. garlic cloves, salt,  and pepper in a food processor or blender until combined. Add 1/2 cup of  the Parmesan cheese and mix again, scraping down the sides until all ingredients are incorporated. While the processor is running, stream about a 1/2 cup of the olive oil until desired consistency is reached.  Add the roasted tomatoes and blend again. Taste with a spoon and die a little. 

Mix the ricotta with the hot pasta and then add the mushrooms. Finally, pour in the pesto and mix until all the noodles are coated with sauce. 

Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top browns a bit. I turned my broiler on for the last 2-3 minutes to get a crispy top layer. 

Serve hot***

RECIPE NOTES

*I used local, organic heirloom tomatoes, but regular slicers will work just as well. Just make sure your tomatoes are ripe and juicy!

** You can probably find Persian Basil at your local farmers’ market. We get ours from a local farmer. If you can’t find it, however, regular Italian Sweet Basil  is fine to use! 

***I image this dish would be great as a cold pasta salad for the upcoming holiday weekend or any summer BBQ/picnic! Just skip the baking step and let sit in your fridge for a few hours to cool! 

ENJOY!

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Come For Thanksgiving Next Year

Holy Moly! When did December get here?

Pardon me for taking almost an entire week to wake up from my food coma and get back into the swing of things.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving (and to those reading outside the U.S., I hope the end of November treated you well!)

I know it’s cliché but I’m so thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family and Jeff this year. For reasons I’d rather not discuss, I nearly missed the opportunity to celebrate, but through a fortunate turn of events on Wednesday afternoon, Jeff and I were able to make the last-minute trip to New York to spend four wonderful days with my family.

Thanksgiving is my mom’s favorite holiday and this was the third one we’ve celebrated without my father. I’m finding that the holidays get a tiny bit easier every year and this was probably the best one yet!

This was also my fourth vegetarian Thanksgiving and, I have to say, it’s hard to feel bad about skipping the turkey when there’s pumpkin ravioli with butter sage sauce and bourbon mashed sweet potatoes on the table.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Butter Sage Sauce

Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Let me tell you, If you’re a vegetarian and find yourself missing meat next Thanksgiving, just head on over to my mom’s house and she’ll set you up.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian, come on over to my mom’s house next year. I’m sure she won’t mind. 

Seriously. You won’t be disappointed.

Because if next year’s feast is anything like this year’s, there will be green bean casserole and stuffin’ muffins.

Green Bean Casserole

Stuffin Muffins

What’s in a stuffin’ muffin, you ask?  I don’t really know, but they are delicious. I promise.

Come to my mom’s next year, and I can guarantee you will eat three different types of dessert.

Dessert

I can also promise that Buddy will wait at least three days before stealing half the leftover turkey out of the fridge.

Buddy Harpoon

You think I’m kidding.

Come for Thanksgiving next year, and we’ll indulge in a morning-after breakfast made up of bagels and fruit. (Yes, more food.)

Bagels

And you’ll get to enjoy coffee and conversation with my niece, Eloise.

Eloise

And play checkers with my nephew, Nicholas.

Nicholas

Come over for Thanksgiving next year and my mom and I will invite you along on a weekend tea date to Charlotte’s.

Charlotte's Tea Room, Warwick, NY

Charlotte's Tea Room, Warwick, NY

Charlotte's Tea Room, Warwick, NY

Where I’ll detox with a salad…

IMG_2412

…and then share the most delicious chocolate cake of my life with you…

Chocolate Cake, Charlotte's Tea Room, Warwick, NY

Come to my mom’s for Thanksgiving next year, and, like me, you’ll never want to go back home.

Come on over for Thanksgiving next year…

Buddy

Buddy will be waiting.

What were the highlights of your Thanksgiving weekend?

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