The beauty of pesto is that it’s simple to make: Add all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and hit pulse. Within a minute or so, you have this terrific tasting condiment/sauce with many uses, such as mixing it with pasta. You can simply add the pesto alone or gussy it up like we do in today’s dish with tomatoes and olives. Best of all, this recipe comes together in 30 minutes. – Detroit Free Press/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled, toasted if desired
Sea salt to taste
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil
340g penne or other short pasta
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, quartered
1/2 to 3/4 cup pearl or cherry-size fresh mozzarella
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Basil leaves for garnish
To make the pesto, process the basil, garlic, salt, walnuts and cheese until the leaves are coarsely chopped. With the machine running, add about 6 tablespoons olive oil (more as needed) until the mixture is smooth but still somewhat paste-like. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in salted boiling water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Leave the pasta in the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, olives and desired amount of pesto and heat through. If the mixture seems too dry, moisten with a little reserved pasta cooking water or more pesto.
To serve, warm pasta bowls, add pasta, top with the fresh mozzarella pearls and garnish with basil leaves.