This pasta dish is one of the simplest and tastiest I make, using the best of summer ingredients – fresh basil and tomatoes. You only need to heat the stove to boil water for the pasta. My CSA bag from La Nay Ferme contained some great produce this week, including several bunches of basil and beautiful heirloom tomatoes; just what I needed to make this dish. Basil is at its peak in July. The leaves are soft and fragrant. I find by mid-August the leaves begin to get brittle and more difficult to purée into a tender sauce. This is just a personal preference, but I do not add cheese and nuts when I make a pesto sauce in the food processor. I prefer to serve the cheese and nuts on the side for individuals to add to their own portions. That way, if you have someone in your family with nut or dairy allergies, they can still enjoy the basil sauce without risk.
Pasta with Fresh Basil Purée and Tomatoes
1 c. packed basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
zest of half a large lemon
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice or to taste
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 c. diced fresh tomatoes (sprinkled with a bit of salt)
3/4 lb. spaghettini
In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, and oil. Add lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. It should be a loose purée. Set aside. Cook your pasta until al dente and drain. Place 1/3 of the pasta in a serving bowl. Add 1/3 of the basil purée and stir to evenly distribute the sauce. Add another 1/3 of the pasta and 1/3 of the sauce and stir to distribute again. Mix remaining pasta and basil purée. Taste. You may need to add a bit of salt. Sprinkle with fresh tomatoes and serve. Serves 6.