My mother-in-law has been visiting from the U.K. and she specially requested a pasta supper. No problem! But suddenly I was paralyzed with indecision. Never-fail pasta carbonara? A simple pomodoro sauce? Maybe luxurious seafood fettuccini? Too many options! In the end, the weather dictated my choice: it was 35 humid degrees, and I couldn’t imagine simmering a sauce for any length of time. And since, in my experience, pesto seems to be a universal crowd-pleaser, I went with that.
It’s been a terribly rainy summer so far and my basil plants are limping along, offering up a measly four leaves a week – so I made arugula pesto instead. It’s the identical formula as classic pesto (leaves + garlic + toasted nuts + olive oil) and equally yummy. While a pot of linguini boiled, I whirled up the pesto in my food processor. Just to add some veg, I quickly roasted a pint of cherry tomatoes*.
One trick I use with pesto is to save some of the pasta cooking water when I drain the noodles. Then, after adding a huge spoonful of pesto to the pasta, I drizzle in some of the pasta water to help turn the pesto into a proper sauce. Garnished with the deliciously intense tomatoes and a handful of Parmesan, it was the perfect summer supper. I even impressed my mother-in-law.
*To roast tomatoes, slice 1 pint cherry tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet at 425F for 15 min.