One of my summer food favorites is picking and eating fresh tomatoes from the vine. There is nothing better. I always grow simple herbs like basil since it pairs well with tomatoes to make a perfect combination. It reminds me of my “pre-children” days spending time with my husband in Italy eating this simple dish; ensalada caprese. Its simply sliced fresh tomato layered with a slice of fresh mozzarella and topped with a basil leaf or two. Drizzle with olive oil. Simple and perfect.
Another seasonal favorite recipe of mine is this tomato almond pesto since it’s simple to make, nutrient dense and my kids love it. It’s also a great way to use up the tomatoes and basil that are more plentiful in summer time. I love that it uses almonds which are packed full of protein, calcium and fiber and it gives our family another meat free satisfying option.
What you need:
¾ lb of penne pasta
½ lbs (about 4-5) tomatoes very ripe and sweet, cut into large chunks (roma works well)
10 large fresh basil leaves
¼ cup unsalted roasted almonds
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (less for kids who don’t like spice)
¼ tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Place the tomatoes, basil, almonds, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt in the food processor or blender. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree.
While the machine is still running, add the olive oil in a steady stream; it will emulsify the puree into a thick pesto.
Scrape the pesto into a big bowl, toss in penne and mix to coat the pasta. Mix in parmesan and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from chef Lidia Bastianich: In Focus Cooking.