Tomato Almond Pesto with Spaghetti

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean--and its is a cinch to make. It is important to make the pesto with the best ingredients. Once it is ready, just toss it in a bowl with some hot, cooked spaghetti and enjoy.


3/4pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
2cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/3cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
1/4teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
1tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for the pasta
1/2cup extra-virgin olive oil
1pound spaghetti
1/2cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated


  1. Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat them dry.
  2. Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food processor bowl, followed by the garlic cloves, almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino, and 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.
  3. While the machine is running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the puree into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If you’re going to dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.)
  4. To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl.
  5. Cook the spaghetti al dente, lift it from the cooking pot, drain briefly, and drop onto the pesto.  Toss quickly to coat the spaghetti, adding a ladle or two of the pasta cooking water if needed. Sprinkle the cheese all over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

Kids Can: Wash the cherry tomatoes and basil and pat them dry; spoon the pesto into the cooked pasta; toss the pasta to coat with pesto; and add the grated cheese.

Reprinted with permission from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Family Kitchen: Nonna’s Birthday Surprise (Running Press, 2013).