Growing up, I’d watch my parents stand over the kitchen counter with a big tomato in one hand and the salt and pepper shakers in the other, biting into the tomato as though it were an apple. At various get-togethers, I’d watch people hover near the fruit and veggie trays, popping cherry tomatoes into their mouths like they were, well, cherries. I’d watch friends at cookouts top their burgers with thick tomato rings. Meanwhile, my almost universal disdain for tomatoes (which I’ve written about before) was so strong that, on multiple occasions, I was told it was “un-American.”
So it was very strange when I began craving them – badly – a couple years ago. A long series of experiments commenced, and they all ended the same way: after a bite or two I’d inevitably pull off the slice of tomato that was on my veggie burger or pick the diced tomatoes out of my tacos or salad. It never failed.
Until …I discovered sun-dried tomatoes. Sweet and savory, rich with deep undertones, yet still mild and smooth. They were, for me, a gateway to tomatoes of all sorts; but there is something extra special about the sun-dried variety.
Of late, my favorite way to enjoy them is to let them shine in this simple, 5-minute sun-dried tomato pesto. Mixed in with a wee bit of garlic and a healthy dose of sweet, summer basil, it makes for a knockout sauce. It’s great on crostini, as a dip for veggies, in pasta or on a sandwich – all the usual suspects, really.
- 1 8.5 oz jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (herbed is even better!), drained (oil reserved)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp pistachios or pine nuts (I use half and half)
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- Oil reserved from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (~1/3 cup) + extra olive oil to equal ½ cup total
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, pistachios/pine nuts, garlic and basil to a food processor or blender and pulse everything together. Slowly add in oil, stopping to scrape down the sides, as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
What’s your favorite type of pesto?