To celebrate the abundance of basil in my newly-planted, backyard herb garden, I decided to make pesto. I’d never made it before and what I discovered is that it is incredibly easy and most definitely worth making at home. This recipe, which is an amalgamation of recipes I found on epicurious.com, calls for tender Marcona almonds instead of pine nuts, giving the pesto a beautiful more buttery flavor. (And you get to nibble on Marcona almonds while you’re cooking!) My favorite way to enjoy pesto is with pasta. But to make it a well-rounded Sunday dinner, I seared a lovely fillet of salmon I’d bought earlier at the farmer’s market and served it a top the pasta. This was a hit!
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
- 1/3 cup Marcona almonds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces linguine
- 3 6-ounce salmon fillets
Have ready a bowl filled with ice. In a saucepan of boiling salted water blanch basil for 2 seconds. Transfer basil with a slotted spoon to the bowl of ice to stop cooking. Drain basil and pat dry.
In a food processor, purée basil with garlic, cheese, Marcona almonds and tarragon. With machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup oil and puree until smooth. Transfer pesto to bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When pan is hot enough, add salmon to skillet, skin side down until skin is browned and crispy, about 6 minutes. Turn salmon over with spatula and cook just until opaque in center, another 4 minutes.
Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot; add all but 1/4 cup pesto and toss to coat, adding enough pasta cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among plates. Top with salmon. Spread remaining 1/4 cup pesto over fish and serve.