SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO PASTA WITH BALSAMIC GRILLED VEGETABLES

Pesto and pasta is a classic combination. And pesto has always been my favorite. Remember my first recipe on the blog? But this time here’s a pesto with a slight twist. My latest cooking discovery is “sun-dried tomatoes”. Sun dried tomatoes are nothing but ripe tomatoes that are salted and dried to preserve. They have a distinct sweet-tart taste with a chewy texture. Lately, I couldn’t get the thought of sun-dried tomato pesto out of my head. So I made this pesto sauce and combined it with pasta and balsamic roasted veggies and it was no less than a culinary heaven.

There are two kinds of sun dried tomatoes available in the market. One that are just the dried tomatoes and the other kind are the dried tomatoes packed in oil. I opted for oil packed tomatoes for this recipe but you can also go for the non-oil packed but make sure to soak them in water for about 2 hours before making the pesto. This pesto has the classic basil pesto ingredients like basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil along with loads of sun dried tomatoes. The end result is a vibrantly colored, deeply flavored, chunky and an extremely versatile sauce.

Another good thing about this pasta is that it is loaded with balsamic roasted veggies. I took a pan full of chopped onions, zucchini, yellow squash and red bell peppers but you can go with any vegetables of your choice. I usually roast veggies with salt, oil and pepper which is pretty good and my basic go to. But adding balsamic while roasting adds more depth to the flavor and a little bit of tanginess that enhances the overall deliciousness of the dish.

The dish looks quite time consuming at first, but it moves along quite quickly. Just boil the pasta, blend the pesto, roast the veggies and combine everything together for a unique and a blissful meal.

The given recipe yields 4 servings.

Ingredients

For sun-dried tomato pesto

  • 7 oz sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts/ toasted almonds
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For roasted veggies and pasta

  • 8oz(1/2 lb) whole grain pasta of your choice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons balsamic vineger
  • salt & pepper as per taste

Instructions

  • To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to it. Add the pasta and boil until it is al dente. (I have used gemelli for this recipe)
  • To roast the vegetables, preheat the oven at 425 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper and whisk until emulsified. Place the diced zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper and onions on a lined baking tray and drizzle the balsamic mixture over the veggies. Toss until all the vegetables are evenly coated. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, tossing halfway.
  • To make the sun-dried tomato pesto, combine all the pesto ingredients in a processor and blend until you get a smooth pesto consistency. (Add the sun dried tomatoes along with it’s oil to the blender because we are not adding any extra oil to the pesto)
  • Now pour the pesto sauce over warm pasta. Also add the roasted veggies and toss everything together. Add a splash of pasta cooking water if you feel that the pasta is dry. Adding a splash of cooking water will also help in easy mixing of the sauce and veggies into the pasta.
  • Once done, taste and adjust the seasoning as per your requirement and serve hot!

Notes

  • You can always make some extra pesto sauce ahead and use it as your “secret sauce” when you need to get the dinner on the table in minutes.
  • The sauce will keep good for a week when refrigerated.
  • You can add Parmesan cheese to the pesto if you wish to make it more dense and creamier.
  • Sun dried tomato pesto works great as a spread too. I usually spread it on my sandwich or a wrap along with roasted veggies, greens and avocado.
  • You can also enjoy it as a dip with veggies and chips.

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