Pasta with Arugula Pesto and Tomatoes

Yesterday was Smashburger. Tomorrow is family grilling. In between, the kind of light pasta dish I like to make a lot in the summer, when it's not too hot to boil a pot of water, but it is hot enough that you don't want something too heavy. The most recent version follows:

You'll need:

  • One pound of pasta. I used farfalle, but shape isn't terribly relevant.
  • One red bell pepper, cut into lengthwise strips, then halving the strips. About one and a half inch long pieces.
  • Approximately one cup of arugula pesto. If your CSA didn't give you big bags of arugula two weeks in a row, forcing you to pestoize the first batch before it went bad, you can use a homemade basil pesto, but it should be fairly loose. If it's not loose, add olive oil to it until the consistency is similar to a thick tomato sauce. And you may want to use a bit less. By the way, I say "approximately" because I used however much was left in the fridge and forgot to measure it out first.
  • Six spring red onions, bulbs and green tops thinly sliced and kept separate. If you didn't get a bunch of spring red onions in your CSA box, use scallions.
  • Three cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5-6 large leaves of basil, chiffonade (look it up).
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • About two cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • Parmesan cheese - I took a vegetable peeler to a wedge of Reggiano to make nice big sheet-chunks.

Cook the pasta. If you don't know how to cook pasta, you will need to learn someplace else. While the pasta is cooking, get out a nice large pan (I use my wok for this, because I use my wok for damn near everything) and heat it up with some olive oil in the bottom. Once it's got some heat on it, toss in the onions (bottom half) and the garlic. Cook these for about 30 seconds, then add the peppers. After another minute to 90 seconds, add the tomatoes. After another two minutes or so, turn off the heat, add the remaining onion, the basil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and the pesto. Stir to combine.

Once the pasta is done, drain it and toss it with the sauce and vegetables. Serve topped with a few shavings of Parmesan.

One thing I didn't do here, by the way, was salt and pepper as I went along. Normally I would have, but the pesto itself has a fair amount of Parmesan in it, it was going to be topped with Parmesan, and I salted the water before cooking the pasta. Depending on your ingredients, you may need to up the seasoning accordingly.

Also, ideally, get your SO to bake a cheesecake for dessert, because that makes it even more awesome.



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Parmesan sheets

Just to nitpick - and I think that I have a more salt-seeking palate than you do, for the record, so that affects my Parmesan preferences - I think the sheets of Parmesan work better with soups and salads than with pasta. I kept wanting more frequent, evenly-spaced interactions with cheese than the large sheets allowed.
Then again, I'm utterly bourgeois and a vegetarian to boot, so what do I know?

That makes sense

No, that's fine - I mainly wanted to try doing the parmesan that way because I''d just bought a really long wedge of it from Costco and was curious to see how well it would work.

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