Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, the distant cousin to the Romesco, for the end of your summer needs.

Truth be told, I have a strong dislike for the 90s staple. In part because they’re casually thrown into things with no pairing, wild abandon, into the abyss of a pasta dish with too much cream, and in another part because unless you’re buying the premium thing they tend to taste like a piece of leather soaked in Italian dressing.

This whole recipe happened because a local restaurant has a sun dried tomato pesto pasta salad that’s a plain girl with zero regards for having enough salt. NEVER salted. I ordered it probably 8 times before I was finally like, I can do this myself.

The salad is coming in another post so the pesto can shine here on it’s own because it’s truly so so good. And the perfect way to use up the jar of sin dried tomatoes you might have floating around in the back of a cabinet. It’s only a handful of ingredients and the full batch makes enough for the pasta salad plus a couple sandwiches, but this would go well on top of salmon or grilled chicken orrrr whatever your favorite basil pesto application is.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Makes About 2 1/2 cups

2 large roma tomatoes, at least 8 oz total
4 cloves garlic, not peeled
1 cup (about 190 g) sun dried tomatoes (preferably in olive oil) from 1 8.5 oz jar (I just use the jar from trader joes for this and it’s perfect)
1/2 cup (80 g) dry roasted almonds, I use unsalted, if using salted just wait to salt until the very end
2/3 cup olive oil (use whatever oil is left in the jar and then add enough to make 2/3 cup)
Salt 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, more to taste (use 1/2 teaspoon if using fine sea salt or mortons kosher)
1/2 cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese

Start by preheating the broil on high and placing the oven rack to the middle of the oven if possible.

Prep the tomatoes by slicing them in half lengthwise then carefully cutting a v notch along the length where the core is to remove the core, usually this isn’t an issue but some tomatoes have problems. Take the unpeeled cloves of garlic and carefully cut a little slit through the peel of each one to prevent the cloves from exploding while cooking.

Place the tomatoes cut side down on a baking sheet along with the garlic cloves and broil for 5-6 minutes, until the skins of the tomatoes have blackened slightly and have started to remove themselves from the tomatoes. Once they’re done roasting, remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Use the 10 minutes to gather and measure out all the ingredients. For the oils, I like to remove the tomatoes from the jar with a fork, slightly squeezing them against the inside of the jar, and placing in the blending vessel so I can then measure out the remaining oil to use in place of some of the regular olive oil. This will give more of a tomato flavor plus infuse the pesto with the flavor of any herbs that have been hanging out with the little dried bags.

After the 10 minutes you can blend the pesto by either immersion blender or regular blender. Order matters for efficient blending so if you’re going the immersion blender route: layer the sun dried tomatoes, followed by the oil, the salt, almonds, and finally the roasted tomatoes and garlic.

If you’re going the regular blender route, layer everything in an almost opposite order: roasted tomatoes and garlic, olive oil, almonds, salt, and then finally sun dried tomatoes.

Whatever order you choose, wait to stir the parmesan in until the very end.

Blend the pesto until mostly smooth, a little texture is good but if you prefer a smoooooth pesto then process the pesto until smooth (and maybe go the countertop blender route)

Once the pesto has blended, transfer the pesto to a storage container and stir in the cheese then taste for salt. Bonus points for letting the pesto sit overnight before using too to get a nice melding of flavors that only intensifies after a day or two. Keep the pesto in the refrigerator, well sealed, for up to one week.

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