Monday Night Martha: Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Pesto

We're experimenting here at Monday Night Martha by cooking from recipes downloaded to the Amazon Kindle. We received a free copy of The Cook's Illustrated How-To Cook Library as part of a short promotion offered this spring. It's slightly odd trying to cook from an electronic reading device because when your hands get messy in the kitchen, you have to be careful handling your "cookbook" so you don't break it.

We chose a recipe from the pasta chapter called "sun-dried tomato and olive pesto." By strange coincidence, a nearly identical copy of the recipe is online at the Arizona Republic's site.

This is a no-cook pasta sauce that involves sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and garlic. When we've used raw garlic in uncooked pasta sauces before, the tart garlic flavor always seems to overpower every other ingredient. This time, we tried blanching the garlic before blending it with the other ingredients, to take the garlicky edge off.

We brought a small pot of water to boil, then skewered a garlic clove and dipped it in the boiling water for about a minute. After removing the garlic from the boiling water, we dunked it in ice water to stop the cooking process. 

All the other ingredients are pulsed in a food processor. Slowly add the oil to the pesto paste to give it a more manageable texture.

For the pasta, we chose rotini because it does a good job of retaining chunkier sauces. Save the pasta water and use some to thin the tomato and olive paste before adding the pasta. Use even more if the sauce is still too thick.

Top with parsley and Parmesan cheese. We ate this with a wickedly good salmon baked in foil but for that recipe, you'll have to come back next week.

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Rene Gutel
Contact: Rene Gutel