We had two surprises in our garden this summer. A big surprise was the appearance of volunteer cherry and pear tomato plants. I haven’t planted tomatoes for 3 or 4 years and was delighted to see strong, vigorous plants growing. A plant with little yellow pear tomatoes grew tall enough to bloom and produce right outside my kitchen window.
Every day, my daughter picked a bowl of delicious, fresh tomatoes and I started looking for ways to use them other than in a salad.
This tomato pasta sauce is delicious and worth trying if you still have cherry tomatoes hanging on in your garden. It’s good enough that I’ll buy cherry tomatoes in the winter so we can have this sauce often. The pesto portion was adapted from a recipe on Lidia’s Italy and the sauce is one that I make often.
CHERRY TOMATO PESTO SAUCE
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
12 large fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. salt
Grating of black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 Tblsp. butter
2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine (Charonnay)
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
Grating of black pepper
4 servings of hot, cooked pasta
To make pesto:
In a food processor, place tomatoes, basil, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until everything is finely minced.
Gradually add olive oil and process until mixture is smooth.
To make sauce:
In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil. Add garlic and saute until lightly brown. Add wine, lemon juice, pepper and ½ cup of halved tomatoes. Stir in pesto and heat until mixture is piping hot.
Serve immediately over cooked pasta.
Yield: 4 servings
The second surprise was what grew up around a bird bath in the back yard. My daughter thought she had picked up a packet of small marigolds to brighten up the bottom base of the bird bath, but the flowers kept growing until they extended well above it and produced some gorgeous, huge orange and yellow flowers.
This recipe is adapted from one in a beautiful Crabtree & Evelyn (England) cookbook. It was originally an appetizer recipe and I added a favorite sauce to the pesto to make a very flavorful topping for pasta.
TORTELLINI WITH CILANTRO PESTO
Sauce can be made in advance. Refrigerate and warm over low heat before serving.
- ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ¾ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup light olive oil
- 2 Tblsp. red-wine vinegar
- Salt/pepper to taste
In food processor, pulse peanuts, then add parsley and cilantro and pulse to produce coarse paste. With motor on, drizzle oil and vinegar through feed tube. Add salt/pepper and process briefly to blend. Set aside.
- 2 Tblsp. butter
- 2 Tblsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in oil, saute garlic briefly. Add wine, boil gently 2-3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Stir the pesto into the sauce. Sauce should be hot when served.
1 to 1-¼ lbs. fresh cheese tortellini
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 Tblsp. olive oil and tortellini to boiling water and cook until pasta is tender – al dente, stirring occasionally.
Drain pasta (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl. Place sauce in a small container and let each person spoon sauce over a serving of pasta. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve with some good bread. I made a quick and easy batter loaf and cut into wedges for sopping up the good sauce. Click here for the bread recipe.
Servings: 4 to 6
This recipe is adapted from one in Susan Branch’s book, Vineyard Seasons. I made a note in my recipe binder:
“Made for Sunday dinner 8/22/93. My daughters and I agreed it was one of the best things we have had in a long while. I only made about 15 (instead of 24 as shown in recipe) but that was plenty. Served with homemade French garlic bread and strawberry/kiwi drinks plus blackberry/apple pie. A sumptuous repast.”
Note that making the ravioli is easy but time-consuming. The ravioli can be made ahead and refrigerated until time to steam or they can be steamed ahead of time and then warmed for about 3 minutes in a steamer. Both versions can be frozen, allowed to come to room temperature and then steamed (8 minutes for raw ravioli, 3 minutes for steamed)..
WON TON RAVIOLI WITH WINE SAUCE
- ½ lb. ricotta cheese (or half of a 15 oz container)
- 2 Tbsp. basil pesto
- 24 won ton wrappers
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup white wine
- ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Mix together ricotta and pesto.
Lay out 6 won ton wrappers at a time on a piece of waxed paper and put a rounded tsp. of pesto mixture in the center of each won ton wrapper.
Dip your finger in a glass of water and moisten the edges of the wrappers. Fold diagonally, press edges together.
Keep finished ravioli under damp cloth. When all are done, place as many as can fit, without touching, into an oiled steamer basket. Steam over boiling water, covered, for 8 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove ravioli one at a time and place on a plate. Cover plate and keep in a warming oven (170 degrees F) until ready to serve.
While ravioli is steaming, make the sauce by melting butter in oil in a small skillet over medium low heat. Saute garlic for 1-2 minutes, add wine and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil and lemon juice. Place 6 ravioli on each of 4 serving plates and pour over sauce. Top with a grating of black pepper and toasted pine nuts.
Servings: 4 – serve with some good bread for sopping up the sauce.