Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto or Spread (and a tribute to Lis - Queen of the Daring Bakers)

(Updated November 2013 - One of the best things about blogging is the amazing way that people you'll never meet in person can touch your life in the virtual world. This week the food blogging community was stunned and saddened to learn about the death of Lisa Cifelli, co-founder of The Daring Bakers, who died at the far-too-young age of 44.  Through The Daring Bakers, Lis encouraged others to challenge themselves with amazing recipes for baked creations of every type, and her enthusiasm and generosity was part of the reason this blogging event eventually had thousands of contributors every month.  I was never a Daring Baker, but I enjoyed following along each month as the bakers shared their posts, and I "knew" Lis through other events like the one featured below.  She will be greatly missed by all who knew her, and I'm dedicating this post to her memory.)  

My Italian is pretty basic, although I studied it a bit when I was going to be traveling to Italy, and I'm learning ingredient names from my great friend Ilva's blog. But I know enough Italian to guess that Festa al Fresco means something like a feast of fresh ingredients. So when I heard Ivonne of Creampuffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina were hosting La Festa al Fresco, I was excited about participating in the biggest virtual food bloggers picnic ever.


These two wonderful cooks are inviting food bloggers to post about a dish prepared using fresh ingredients from their area. Well if you've been reading my blog at all lately, you know it's all about tomatoes. Yesterday when I posted my version of for the freezer tomato sauce, I promised to come back and tell about what I made with that sauce that captured the taste of pure summer. This sun-dried tomato pesto is condensed summer in a jar, and one of the best things I've ever tasted. Quite honestly, I've been eating it for days. In fact, right after I took that photo above, I ate every bit of those whole wheat pitas spread with pesto even before the photos were edited. You simply must make this!

No, I did not dry my own tomatoes for this dish, although for years I dried tomatoes in a food dehydrator before really good sun-dried tomatoes bacame available in this area. Now that you can buy wonderful big jars of them at Costco, my favorite Buy Blue store, I don't bother with drying them myself. But this pesto does have lots of fresh basil and fresh parsley from my garden, besides the fresh tomato sauce I already mentioned, so I think it's quite al Fresco enough to qualify.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto or Spread
(makes about 6 cups, recipe adapted from RecipeZaar)

(You will need a food processor to make this successfully. There are many good brands, but I love my Cuisinart.)

Ingredients:
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
(drain oil before measuring if there is a lot)
2 cups coarsely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup fresh tomato sauce (see below for substitutions)
6 large cloves garlic
2 T fresh lemon juice
sea salt to taste, about 2 tsp.
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Put steel blade into food processor. Add garlic cloves and process until finely chopped. (You could use the food processor to chop the basil and parsley if you wanted too, but I just chopped it with a chef's knife.)

Add sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, olive oil, basil, parsley, tomato sauce, and lemon juice and process until mixture is well combined. I kept mine a tiny bit chunky. Season with salt and pepper, buzz for a few seconds to combine again.

(If you don't have the fresh tomatoes to make fresh tomato sauce, use 2 cans diced tomatoes, puree in food processor, then cook down to make 1 cup sauce. Cool before using in this recipe. You could also use canned tomato sauce, but the flavor would not be as fresh.)

The original recipe said this will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a month, although it will never last that long! I am experimenting with freezing a small bit of the batch I made, (in spite of all those recipes I've read where it says to leave out the cheese if you're planning to freeze your pesto) and I'll come back and report on whether the freezing experiment was at all successful. I've frozen grated parmesan many times and the freezing just makes it a bit crumbly, so I'm hopeful.


Ideas for using Sun-Dried Tomato  Pesto or Spread
  • I already confessed I've been eating it for days simply spread on whole wheat pita bread. (I like Kangaroo Brand Salad Pockets if you can get them where you live.)
  • Other things you could spread it on include crackers, sourdough or French bread, foccacia, flour tortillas, or Naan.
  • Of course, this would be heavenly on freshly cooked pasta. (For South Beach dieters, use Dreamfield's Low-Carb Pasta.)
  • I think a few tablespoons of this stirred into freshly cooked brown or white rice would make a great dish. (For South Beach Diet, use brown rice or Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.)
  • I'd also like to try adding a bit of this to any tomato-based soup or stew.
  • The pesto could be spread on bread to replace mayo for a turkey or chicken sandwich.
  • Last, but certainly not least, I'm going to use some of what I have left as a stuffing for chicken breasts with a bit of goat cheese.
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35 comments:

Ivonne said...

I love the idea of this being "condensed summer in a jar"! What a wonderful image.

I'm with you on the tomatoes. I adore them and while I prefer fresh, I am definitely acquiring a taste for sun-dried. This pesto is a must-try.

Thank you so much for bringing this dish to the festa!

christine said...

All your delicious tomato-based recipes are keeping me very, very busy and not doing my own recipe cooking! I now have another batch of slow roasted tomatoes in the freezer and a soup pot full of marinara sauce on the stove. Guess the pesto is next - it looks so wonderful and simply can't be denied! Thanks Kalyn!

Ellie said...

This and pasta would make the most wonderful dish for a warm summer's day lunch! Though I think that I'd end up devouring it all on water crackers before the pasta was done ;)

Kalyn said...

Thanks Ivonne. Can't wait to see the other recipes.

Christine, I take it as a complete compliment if you make one of my recipes with all the good recipes you post yourself.

Ellie, I haven't managed to eat any on pasta yet, but I'm planning to.

barbie2be said...

i've made this sun dried tomato pesto, it's delicious!

sher said...

I absolutely love this recipe!! I will make this for sure, because there are so many things I would use this for. I like to add dried tomatoes to different things, to give an extra spark to recipes. And it looks wonderful as a spread.

Kalyn said...

BArbie2be, I can't stop eating it.

Sher, let me know how you use it.

PatL said...

This sounds great, I'm so glad you included a link to it in your latest post. I wonder how to adapt it for sundried tomatoes not packed in oil ... any ideas?

Kalyn said...

Pat, it shouldn't be a problem to use the other type of sun-dried tomatoes. I'd reconstitute them in water, drain well, then add just a tiny bit more olive oil when you make the pesto. I use to dry my own tomatoes in a food dehydrator about 15 years ago when sun-dried tomatoes weren't that available here, but now that you can get a big jar at Costco, I just buy them.

Nicole said...

I'm experimenting with pizza again and decided I wanted to try a sun-dried tomato pesto base rather than traditional pizza sauce. I've been searching the web for ideas but should have known to check here first! This one sounds like exactly what I was looking for! This time around I experimented with whole wheat sourdough pizza dough. I used all whole wheat flour (except for what was in my sourdough starter). It looks like it will be good but I'll let you know for sure after I bake it!

Sugar Sharon said...

Kalyn, the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto or Spread
Festa al Fresco is amazing!!! I went out and purchased a food processor just for this recipe (and very glad I did!) and could not imagine - even with the great pictures - how wonderful it is. We will be using it with the chicken/goat cheese/basil recipe that you also posted.

By the way, I put half of it in the freezer and imagine that it will be 'delish' on Dreamfields sometime in the very near future.

Thanks so very much!!

Tara said...

This is awesome! I just made it.

So glad I own a food processor. It made it very easy.

Kalyn said...

Tara, so glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

The pesto is excellent but one quick commnet, tomato sauce in the list of ingredients but not in the prep portion. Cheers!

Kalyn said...

Anonymous, oh duh! I hate it when I make mistakes like that. Fixing it now, thanks!

Wilma said...

This has to be one of my all-time favorite snack recipes ... I have not come across someone who did NOT like it. Everyone LOVES it, including the difficult eaters! I can also easily adapt it for a regular visitor who can't eat anything with cow's milk in it by replacing the parmesan with pecorino. I've served it with bread, pitta breads, crackers .... A sure success, every single time!

Kalyn said...

Wilma, that's great to know. So glad you have been enjoying it so much. Also one of my personal favorites!

Hina said...

Hi Kalyn!

I left the previous comment as anonymous but I figured since I love your blog so much, I might as well subscribe...I especially love your south beach recipes! Keep up the good work!

Hina

Kalyn said...

Hina, glad you're enjoying the blog and thanks again for catching that mistake!

Hina said...

Err....I dont remember catching a mistake... =)

I was the one who posted the anonymous comment though....I was thinking about about using your sundried tomato recipe but skipping the pesto step and instead just stuffing my chicken with plain sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) and goat cheese...do you think that would work?

Hina

Kalyn said...

Oh, thought it was the anonymous comment right above this. I get quite a few comments; get mixed up sometimes!

Hina said...

what do you think of my idea above?

Kalyn said...

Hina, I'm sure it would be good but personally I'd add some basil or basil pesto because I think I might miss the basil flavor.

Linnea said...

Kalyn,
I know this was originally posted months ago, but I hope you'll still reply! This time of year I have lots of frozen pesto, but no fresh ingredients. Could I just food process some tomatoes & sauce in with "standard" pesto, you think?

Kalyn said...

Linnea, not sure why I didn't see this sooner; somehow I missed it in the e-mail and just found the comment on my dashboard. Yes, I do think you could make a tasty spread by using regular basil pesto mixed with some sun-dried tomatoes and sauce. The sun-dried tomatoes add a lot of body, I would use those if you have some.

bellini said...

A wonderful tribute to Lis and to the blogging community Kalyn. It is so sad to lose one of our own.

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Val; it's really making me think about the great sense of community from those days.

kellypea said...

Lovely tribute, Kalyn. Ah, those were the days, weren't they? Lis was one uniquely awesome woman. As for this pesto? It's a perfect recipe for that Russian Braid I made. I bought the pesto I put in it.

Kalyn Denny said...

Kellypea, that shows what different (but complementary) skills we have, can do pesto, but bread is beyond my level of expertise! This is really making me remember those early days of blogging. Lis was a force for good, that's for sure.

Andrea Meyers said...

I enjoyed the Festa al Fresco event, it was a fun way to end the summer. And you are right, she was a force for good, and left an indelible mark on the blogging world.

Kalyn Denny said...

Andrea, she is definitely gone too soon, but I think it's a good thing to be remembered for!

Deeba PAB said...

Love your blog Kalyn, and am amazed at the way Lis touched lives! Beautiful!!

Kalyn Denny said...

Thanks Deeba. She certainly did!

Elle said...

That Festa was a fun event and I think that was one thing Lis was big on...fun! Great pesto recipe and love the suggestions for use at the end. Every time I visit you blog I find something wonderful to make Kalyn.

mickeydownunder said...

G'day! What a lovely tribute, photo and recipe!
It is bittersweet to read all of these wonderful tributes to Lis, shared one and feel glad and sad through each one!
Cheers! Joanne
http://www.whatsonthelist.net

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