Sweet and Savory Pesto

Pesto. It’s always a winner. But when my plan to make traditional pesto was foiled by a bad batch of basil, I needed to improvise. That’s how I came up with this sundried tomato version — a sweeter take on the original. Delicious with pasta (or spread on crostini), this recipe gets a lot of action at my house.

Sweet and Savory Pesto Pasta with Feta Cheese (serves 4)


What you need:

Note: Pesto isn’t really a measuring-type recipe since it’s literally impossible to mess up. Hence no exact measurements.

  • Approximately 9 ounces of your favorite pasta
  • 15 to 20 oil-packed sundried tomato halves, drained
  • A handful (about one small clamshell if you’re buying it at the store) of basil leaves removed from their stems, plus a few additional leaves chiffonade for garnish
  • A handful of raw pine nuts, almonds or walnuts, whichever you like
  • A generous spoonful (or two!) of Parmesan cheeseĀ  (I was out of fresh! So embarrassing. Please forgive me.)
  • A healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

How you do it:

  1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan.
  2. While pasta cooks, put remaining ingredients (excluding feta cheese) in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Transfer tomato mixture to a medium bowl.
  3. Slowly combine reserved pasta water with tomato mixture, stirring with a whisk until you achieve the consistency you want. Add to pasta and toss well to coat. Top with feta and remaining basil.

To make the spreadable crostini version, simply forgo adding the pasta water. Spread on toasts and top with some fresh Parmesan. Delicioso.


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6 thoughts on “Sweet and Savory Pesto

  1. lovely! i simply adore sun-dried tomatoes and you’re sort of lucky that your basil went bad because you were able to experiment and make this gorgeousness!

  2. Made this tonight for some friends as a crostini topping.
    Went ahead and made the pesto as directed, but then stirred in a
    few spoonfuls of feta. It was friggin’ delicious.

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