Things have warmed up considerably around these parts. It certainly feels like summer now, we could get as high up as 30 degrees (celsius) this weekend, they tell us.
I slept with the windows open for the first time last night and made my first batch of summer pesto with basil from our little plant tucked away on the balcony, it grows so fast we’re probably going to have our own basil farm in no time!
The neighbourhood Farmers’ Market is back for the season, and I’m predictably looking forward to the sweet juicy fruits of summer. I’ve been dreaming of tomatoes…tomatoes that taste like the way my mom talks about tomatoes from her childhood, back when they grew tomatoes in Northern Ghana. Even though it’s available year round, there’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh luscious, locally-grown tomatoes of summer.
One of the things I like to do when tomatoes are in season is to slowly roast them with olive oil and a bit of spice and herbs for a deeply intensified sweet and savoury tomato-ey flavour. We roast a batch at a time and keep it in the fridge, and use them in a myriad of tasty concoctions.
This slow roasted tomato and pepita pesto highlights one of the many ways to use slow roasted tomatoes; it’s a herby variation of this sun-dried tomato pesto with big summer flavours. It’s a favoured summer pesto; taking ingredients that are plentiful during the season, and making a versatile sauce for our summer revelry, it’s the ultimate condiment. I put it in and on everything! It’s perfect tossed with pasta, makes great pizza sauce and sandwich spread.
It’s a quick and easy pesto, with some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) tossed in for a flair of toasty nuttiness.
It’s a convenient sauce to have on hand, and I think we’ll be making it often as we get deeper into summer and tomatoes get juicer and plentiful, and the basil plant gets bigger.
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes (or 4 cups quartered medium-sized tomatoes)
- 4 – 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 tablespoon coarse sea salt and ground black pepper, to roast with tomatoes
- 1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 3 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes (optional)
- 3/4 – 1 cup olive oil, plus more to cover the pesto for storage
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
- Cut tomatoes in half, and toss gently in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and ground black pepper
- Spread on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet in a single layer
- Bake for 2 – 3 hours, until tomatoes are reduced in size and shrivelled up, they should be dry but still juicy
- Using a food processor, pulse pepitas and basil for a few seconds to combine
- Add tomatoes and Aleppo pepper and pulse into a chunky paste
- Drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube while the food processor is running - blend until the ingredients are well combined and pesto is as coarse or as smooth as desired
- Check for salt and add more if desired
- Use immediately, or store in a jar or airtight container covered in a thin layer of olive oil