Please don’t judge this recipe by the picture. It’s not the best looking pasta dish to begin with and my hopeless photography skills definitely don’t help do it any justice, but I can guarantee you that it’s worth making! I was recently asked whether I usually end up trying new recipes or cooking old favorites during the week. You can probably tell from my blog that I’m always trying new dishes or experimenting with flavor combinations, but there are a few pasta dishes that I crave often and make at least once a month. One is my peanut sauce pasta and another is this toasted almond and roasted red pepper pesto pasta. Both are very comforting dishes that are so good that I inevitably end up sneaking back to kitchen to eat more forkfuls over the pot….
This recipe comes together in 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal. The pesto is made of shallots, garlic, toasted almonds, roasted red peppers, and tomato sauce. I threw the fresh basil in because we have an abundance of it in our little balcony herb garden right now, but I’ve also made the pasta without it, so you don’t need to buy a package of basil just for this recipe. Goat cheese is perfect on top because the creaminess balances nicely with the crunch of the almonds. So simple, but so good!
Toasted Almond and Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
1 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) whole raw almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 12-ounce jars roasted red peppers, drained
1 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (I’m a fan of Prego)
12 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the pot, and keep warm.
Place almonds on a cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes at 350ºF or until almonds are golden brown.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté shallots for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and sauté one additional minute.
Place toasted almonds, shallot mixture, red peppers, tomato sauce, basil, red pepper flakes, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth pesto forms. Toss pesto with pasta in a large pot until well mixed. Place pasta on serving dishes and garnish by sprinkling goat cheese over each serving. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition: 489 calories, 24.8g fat, 11.8g fiber, 17.7g protein per serving
Cost: $1.28 per serving