Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tomato and Walnut Pesto on Pappardelle: Quick and Easy Comfort Food

Perhaps this is not the prettiest pasta dish out there. Pappardelle is usually best with a smoother consistency sauce and this coarse Tomato and Walnut Pesto adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros would have been better suited on the spinach ravioli I had in the fridge, or the Ricotta Gnocchi recipe it's paired with in the book. The heart wants what the heart wants however, and my heart was wanting pappardelle (it's my favorite). What it lacks in eye appeal, this one makes up for in taste with the wide ribbons of noodles coated in thick flavorful pesto.

I adapted this recipe a bit--reducing the olive oil, upping the garlic, making it dairy free with a soy-based parmesan, swapping out the pine nuts for some roasted walnuts, changing up some of the ingredient amounts, and topping it with a layer of seasoned panko. My changes are in red below.

Tomato-Walnut Pesto
Adapted from the Tomato Pesto recipe in Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 4)

1/3 cup olive oil (reduced to 3 Tbsp)
2 cloves garlic, peeled (increased to 4 cloves)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (used organic/no salt tomatoes)
salt (and freshly ground black pepper)
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
4 Tbsp pine nuts (used 1/3 cup toasted walnuts)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (used 1/4 cup vegan soy parmesan)
(topped it with about 1/4 cup of Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs)

Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a medium saucepan with two cloves of garlic. When it starts to sizzle, add the canned tomato. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, periodically crushing it up with a wooden spoon, until the tomato thickens, reduces, and becomes smooth.

Chop the other garlic cloves and add it along with the torn basil leaves and nuts to a food processor or mini chop. Pulse mixture until it's finely chopped, then add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the cheese, and pulse until just mixed. Stir basil mixture into the tomato sauce and heat through. Remove the whole garlic cloves before serving.

Mix with pasta and top with additional cheese or crispy panko.

Note: If you are making the tomato pesto in advance, keep the pesto separate and add to the heated tomato sauce just before serving.

Notes/Results: The pesto has great tomato and basil flavor. I like how the canned tomatoes cooked down into an almost "jammy" state and blend into the basil-nut mixture. I like the texture that walnuts give pesto and I prefer using them to the standard pine nuts. This is a quick and easy dish to make--you can boil the pasta and make the pesto while the tomatoes simmer away and then just toss it all together and serve with a simple salad. Simple and tastes great, I would make this again.

We are "Getting a Little Nutty, or Seedy" at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. You can check out all the other nut and seed-filled dishes by going to the post and following the links.

I am also sending this dish to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Juli of Pictures of All My Princesses. Stop by her blog on Friday to see some fabulous pasta creations there.


  1. Pappardelle is my favorite also! I love those large thick noodles...such a great bite to them!  And I think its just PERFECT for pesto even if its not a traditional pairing.  When a pesto tastes this good...it goes with everything!

  2. Pappardelle is my favorite too but I can never seem to find it in the stores.  The very idea of a jammy tomato topping sounds wonderful and I love that you subbed walnuts (which I like much better than pine nuts).  Looks delicious!

  3. Great photos of this pasta dish!

  4. I think your photos look wonderful.  I had to stop myself from licking the screen.  Can't wait to give it a try.  Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.  I've definitely bookmarked it.

  5. Oh! I've just put this on my list to make.  Thank  you!   :-D

  6. Wow---this looks amazing.   I sometimes use pecans in pesto when I don't have pine nuts.

  7. I think this looks wonderful Deb and I love the way you offer the recipe in both of it's iterations! 

  8. The very second my eye saw the word "pappardelle" my heart skipped a beat. This is one of my most favorite pasta shapes and your pesto, though it would be wonderful on ravioli, looks mouth-watering on these noodles. Yum and yum.

  9. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesMarch 24, 2012 at 6:23 AM

    Beautiful! I love papparedelle too - so comforting. And I am all for alternative nuts in my pesto - great choice! 


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