Tomato & Almond Pesto


It’s been blowing a gale here in SF, for a while now, so it feels too cold for things like tomatoes and corn, but they’re starting to pop up in the farmers market and my mind is starting to dance.

My husband and I are going through one of those periods when there’s no time. No time to relax. No time to read, catch up with chores. The dog looks at us like, Remember me–how about a cuddle? It’s work and more work. So cooking has fallen by the wayside.

But then I saw the tiny tomatoes in the farmers market, and I immediately thought of this sauce. It can be made in minutes and freezes beautifully. It’s not my sauce, the credit belongs to Lidia Bastianich, but it is something I make all the time. Because it’s a raw sauce the flavors are so fresh and bright. Towards the end of fall as the tomatoes are fading, I buy as many as I can, make a bunch of this sauce and freeze it. And it never fails that somewhere in the miserable dead of winter, I reach into our icy overcrowded abyss and accidentally lay my hands on one of the frosty sauce tubs, and it brings a smile to my face and a little bit of summer back into our lives.

I add a bit more garlic than Lidia, but either way, like most pestos this an express train to Garlic Town. Unless you want people to be very “aware” of you, ’tis best to keep the kissing and the movie going until after things mellow…

Tomato & Almond Pesto (enough for 1 lb. of pasta)

3/4 lb. (340g) of sweet cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup (80ml) almonds, lightly toasted (skins on or off)
1 to 4 plump cloves of garlic (Lidia uses 1, I used 4)
12 big basil leaves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25ml0 to 2.5ml) red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
1/2 cup (120ml) good quality olive oil–it’s a raw sauce, you’re going to taste the oil, so it should be a good one
A few grinds of black pepper if you feel like more pepper
Salt to taste


Put everything in a blender or food processor and whiz until you have a nice pink paste. Mine might look a little orange in the photos because I used mostly yellow tomatoes, but I generally use red and the sauce comes out pink which I think is a bit more appealing.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Use or freeze.

You can top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like.