The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean — and it is a cinch to make. It’s important to make the pesto with the best ingredients then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy.
3/4 pound (about 2-1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup of whole almonds, lightly toasted
1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for the pasta
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry.
Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food processor bowl followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine purée; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.
With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the purée into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If you’re going dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate if for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.)
To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water, with 1 tablespoon salt, to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl.
Cook the spaghetti al dente, lift it from the cooking pot, drain briefly, and drop onto the pesto. Toss quickly to coat the spaghetti, sprinkle the cheese all over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.
From Lidia's Italy by Lidia Bastianich (Knopf 2007). All rights reserved. Used with permission of the publisher.
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