First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who have been leaving your favorite weeknight menu ideas. I’ve got so many great new recipes to try and will be sharing my two week menu plan in the next couple of days so stay tuned.
Today’s recipe will be a new addition to our meal plan rotation, at least during tomato season. Our tomato crop has been a little lean and small this year. I have been saving today’s recipe for Tuscan Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta for quite a while now. I think I found it right after tomato season last year so I have been waiting for this year’s garden fresh tomatoes to be ready. I knew it would be the first recipe I would try once I had some tomatoes.
I need to add a disclaimer here. This recipe is not a quick and easy menu item. It takes a little prep and time but it is so worth it! A lot of it can be done the day before or earlier in the day or you can take some shortcuts with some store bought items but for the full flavor effect homemade is best! The recipe calls for oven roasted tomatoes and fresh pesto. Here is where you can cheat. You could use store bought sundried or roasted tomatoes and store bought pesto but we all know homemade is usually better.
The recipe is from my friends Nurse Heidi. We have never met in person, although I know that on one of my trips to Utah we are going to meet! Heidi is a wonderful cook and her recipes are always a hit at our house.
The first step is to roast yourself some tomatoes. An easy process, it just takes some time. My tomatoes were pretty small so they only needed to roast for about an hour and 15 minutes or so at 300 degrees. Just watch them and when they are nice and softly shriveled up and getting a little brown and caramelized around the edges they are ready. Make extra because you will want to eat some right then and there. I used roma tomatoes. Just cut them in half, clean out the seeds and sprinkle them with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast them cut side up.
Warning: Your house will smell amazing and will cause you to salivate!
The next step is to make the pesto (or buy store bought) I had some fresh basil I had gotten at the farmer’s market. The recipe also calls for pine nuts but I have made pesto with walnuts before too. Pine nuts are very expensive right now so I bought just the amount I needed in the bulk food bins.
My batch made more than needed for the recipe so I just put the extra into ice cube trays and froze it for later. It is great to throw into soups, pasta etc.
So take your roasted tomatoes, fresh pesto, some nice crisp bacon and Parmesan cheese and you’ve got an amazingly delicious dinner!
- ½ pound penne pasta, cooked to al dente
- 2 chicken breasts
- kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder
- 3 T. apple cider vinegar
- 2 T. honey
- 3 strips bacon, fried until crisp and crumbled
- 12 roasted roma tomatoes (24 halves), sliced into wide strips
- ½ cup fresh pesto (store bought or homemade)
- ¼ Parmesan cheese
- fresh basil leaves for garnish
- 3 cups of packed basil leaves (washed and stems removed)
- ⅔ cup pine nuts or walnuts
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- olive oil - enough to allow it to blend freely, but not be soupy
- Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente
- Carefully butterfly the chicken breasts and sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic powder on the cut sides
- Grill on each side for about 8 minutes until cooked through, basting with a mixture of vinegar and honey
- Slice into thin strips
- After the pasta is done cooking, drain and pour into a large serving bowl
- Add the pesto into the pasta and toss until evenly mixed in
- Add the tomatoes, crumbled bacon and chicken, and toss again until evenly distributed
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, add basil leaves for garnish and serve immediately
- Place above in a food processor and drizzle a generous amount of oil on top
- Pulse several times until it is coarsely chopped
- You may need to add more oil if it is too dry
- Continue to pulse a few more times until it is finely chopped
- Set aside ½ cup for pasta and put remaining into ice cube trays
- Cover with a very thin layer of oil to preserve the fresh green color and freeze
- After frozen remove from trays and place in airtight container
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Cut 12 roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seedy pulp, leaving the core intact Drizzle lightly over the top olive oil and toss to coat
- Place them cut side up on a baking sheet
- Sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and 1 Tablespoon of sugar on top
- Bake for 2½ - 3 hours (mine were small and only bake for 1½ hours) or until the bottoms and edges are beginning to brown and caramelize a bit
- The tops will be soft and shriveled and will smell delicious!
- Roasted tomatoes will keep for a few days tightly covered in the refrigerator