PARSLEY PESTO PASTA WITH BLISTERED TOMATOES
This one’s quite a big spend in light of my limited September Challenge budget and the heavy meaty menu last week; I was craving fresh, vibrant flavors. Its Parsley Pesto Pasta will be as bright as you can get, and the ripe cherry tomatoes atop the dish provide an explosion of color and sweetness to go with the spicy garlic and Parmesan. It’s not cheap. However, I created it to work.
WHAT’S IN PARSLEY PESTO?
Fresh pesto can be expensive because of fresh fresh organic basil, Parmesan, olive oil, and pine nuts. Therefore, I’ve made some substitutes for my pesto at a reasonable price. First, I use cheap Parsley instead of basil. In the second, I avoid pine nuts altogether. The flavor of Parmesan contains enough nuttiness to give me the taste I want. If walnuts are available, add a few to the pesto to provide a more intense, nutty taste. Fresh lemon zest gives the pesto a nice flavor boost. However, should you not have the space in your budget to invest, it’s possible to use canned juice and skip the zest (I’ve done this in the past, and it received a passing grade).
One bunch of fresh Parsley ($0.77)
1 Cup crushed Parmesan ($0.69)
Two cloves of garlic ($0.16)
1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
Fresh lemon ($0.79)
6 Tbsp olive oil ($0.96)
One tablespoon olive oil ($0.16)
2 pints grape tomatoes ($4.00)
Salt and pepper according to your preference ($0.05)
One lb. pasta (any shape) ($1.00)
Five fried eggs (optional) ($1.60)
Rinse the Parsley, then take it off and drain. Put the leaves off the stems into a food processor with the Parmesan garlic, salt, garlic, and juice from half of the lemon (about two tablespoons). Blend the ingredients until they’re chopped finely. Slowly pour the olive oil via the spout while the machine runs until a smooth paste is formed. Place the pesto in a bowl and set aside.
The large skillet is on moderate flame. Add one tablespoon of olive oil, and then tilt the skillet so that it coats the surface. Add the tomatoes and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not stir the tomatoes too long to let them burn on the hot pan. The skins will pop while the tomato releases its juice and thickens to an almost sweet glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper according to your preference.
To cook the pasta, prepare the water in a large pot to a boil. The pasta is cooked in boiling water by the instructions on the packet or until it is al dente. Save a little of the starchy cooking liquid, after which you can drain the pasta using a colander. Let the pasta cool before returning to the pan (with the heat off). Add the pesto and mix until coated. If the pasta becomes too dry or clumps in the middle, sprinkle a small amount of the cooking water you saved on top of the pasta to loosen.
Divide the pasta into five bowls. Add a spoonful of tomato sauce that has been charred, and scrape off some sweet spice from the pan, too. Then, top the bowls with crispy egg, if you like.