A couple weeks ago, my friend Jeremy told you using the last of the summer bumper crop to make oven-roasted tomatoes. Like the diligent readers you are, several of you went and made your own oven-roasted tomatoes. But then you emailed me later that week asking what to do with the oven-roasted tomatoes you had made. Recognizing that my first-impulse answer, “what can’t you do with them?!” wasn’t exactly so helpful, I started a list of ways to use these plump little suckers. Toss a couple on pizza; pile them in a heap on baked feta and serve with pita chips; add to roasted broccoli and drizzle vinaigrette over the whole mess; and so forth.
One suggestion I neglected to share, of course, was to toss them with pasta. Ironically, that’s my most frequent use for them. I toss them with spaghetti and finish with parmesan, I add them to baked dishes like ziti and lasagna, and — as you’ll see — I mix them with some rigatoni and coat it all with pesto. In this combination, the tomatoes brighten the pesto-coated pasta, punctuating with sweetness and acid. Once you’ve got the tomatoes, the dish takes about 25 minutes to make, though the results would suggest otherwise. An added plus: this doubles as weekday lunch. What more could you ask for?
The pesto is delicious — though “radish pesto” is perhaps a misnomer, since the pesto is made not with the radishes themselves, but with their leaves. After years of buying radishes from the farmers’ market and watching the forlorn greens wilt away in the fridge, I discovered this wonderful recipe on Food52 and haven’t turned back since. The recipe is by “Oui, Chef,” a regular contributor whose recipes are some of the most well-conceived on the site. I’ve always been one to add acid (lemon juice, lemon zest) to my pesto, and when Oui, Chef did so as well, I knew I had to read on. His pesto recipe combines traditional ingredients (basil, garlic, olive oil) with less traditional ones (feta, marcona almonds, chives — stay tuned for more about them later this week), and the result is divine.
It’s not only the tomatoes that have multiple uses, by the way. This pesto is exceedingly versatile. Shmear some on slices of bread or pieces of baguette, top with feta or ricotta, maybe some chopped tomatoes, and lettuce, and you have a lovely vegetarian lunch. Drop dollops onto pizza dough with a couple thin slices of radish, and some pecorino, and you have yourself a unique and delicious pizza. Add some to a vinaigrette and use it to dress beans (from a can is totally fine) for a nice variation on bean salad. You get the drift. One spread, many uses. Just the way I like it.
Rigatoni with Radish Pesto and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to large bowl. Mix in pesto and tomatoes, and grate 1/4 cup cheese over top. Mix to incorporate; serve warm or at room temperature.
Radish and Basil Pesto
1 cup packed fresh radish greens, well washed and dried
1 cup packed basil leaves, well washed and dried
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup marcona almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup feta cheese, cut or broken into chunks
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 radishes, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Place garlic and almonds in the bowl of a small food processor with a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper, and pulse until finely minced.
Add the radish and basil leaves, and process while pouring the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue until oil has been incorporated and pesto is smooth.
Add feta and radishes, and pulse just until broken up into small bits — this is where the pesto gets chunky. If you prefer a completely smooth pesto, process for longer at this stage.
Pour pesto into a medium sized bowl, and mix in the lemon juice, grated parmesan, and chives.
Test for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice as desired. Spoon into an air-tight container just big enough to hold all the pesto, pour a thin layer of olive oil to coat the top, and store in fridge. Pesto will keep for up to 1 week.