Updated: Jun 3, 2020
What can you do with the dusty jars of oil-packed sundried tomatoes that are sitting in the back of your pantry? Turn them into a tomato pesto, of course! Here is my adaptation of a version from The Italian Dish (a cooking blog well worth exploring, by the way). This pesto is so good, you’ll be tempted to eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar. Be sure to use good-quality cheese and decent balsamic vinegar.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cut into rough chunks, about 2 to 3 ounces by weight
1 entire jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, about 8 ounces (do not drain)
3 or 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Four sprigs of fresh basil (use the leaves, discard the stems)
1/4 cup pine nuts (about 1.25 ounces), toasted in a skillet just until light brown
A pinch or two of black pepper
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Optional: Zest from one small lemon, plus one tablespoon lemon juice
Method: In a food processor, grind the cheese until it is coarse and crumbly. Add everything else including about two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Process until it is the texture you want, anywhere from coarse to fine. Stop the machine. Taste the mixture to see whether you need more vinegar or pepper. When I make it, I prefer a lot of vinegar (at least three tablespoons, maybe more depending on the strength of the vinegar and the relative saltiness of the cheese). Pack the pesto into a clean glass jar, cover, and store in the refrigerator.
Suggestions on how to use it: This pesto is excellent tossed with cooked pasta (you may need to thin it with a bit of water when you mix it with pasta), or mac-n-cheese. Toss it with sauteed vegetables such as zucchini and summer squash, or steamed cauliflower and broccoli. Try it on grilled vegetables such as eggplant and asparagus. Use it as a spread on crusty baguettes or Italian bread, or as a topping for bruschetta or crostini. Spoon a dollop on polenta squares that have been lightly sauteed in olive oil.