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Meatless Monday Recipe for 4/13/15: Creamy Basil-Almond Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomato Penne

creamy basil pestoI do so adore a good bowl of pasta. To me, Meatless Mondays is almost synonymous with pasta.

Pasta dishes are usually quick and easy to prepare, and pasta is a versatile food ingredient. This week’s Meatless Monday recipe includes one of my favorite pastas, penne.  There’s something about that ridged, tube-shaped wonder that goes so well with sauces and vegetables. For this Creamy Basil-Almond Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomato Penne recipe, I used an ingredient that may leave some people scratching their head: silken tofu. This type of tofu is wonderful incorporated in sauces, which is why I chose to add it to the basil-almond pesto. Don’t be afraid of the silk! I hope you enjoy this week’s recipe. Bon appetit!

four forks

Basil-Almond Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomato Penne

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • 8 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne (tube-shaped pasta)

Basil-Almond Pesto

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 1/2 teaspoons if using jarred minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Pecorino-Romano OR Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a baking dish, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar and salt; toss to coat well. Bake tomato mixture for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and lightly charred.

While the tomatoes are roasting, combine basil, almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse. Next, add the garlic and cheese and pulse a few times more. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate all ingredients. With the processor running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until all of the ingredients are well blended.

Transfer pesto to a saucepan over low heat; add silken tofu and lemon juice. Whisking continually so that the cheese doesn’t burn, add the heavy cream to thicken, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Once thickened and warmed through, toss with pasta. Add roasted tomatoes and serve warm.

creamy basil pesto 2


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