I spent the last few days in Chicago visiting a dear friend, and those days were surprisingly warm. I was all ready to embrace the fall and I even packed two sweaters to combat against the wind tunnel effect, but they and the jacket I packed were completely unnecessary. It was sunny, and warm, and largely reminiscent of not only the last third of this past summer, but also of our time last year in Barcelona. Between Thursday and Friday, I walked all over Lincoln Park, and the Loop, and revisited West Loop which was the neighborhood I stayed in the first time I was in Chicago ever. As a belated housewarming gift to my friend I brought him an immersion blender, and ever since then I was kind of preoccupied with making my favorite tomato pesto because it always comes out better using that than the traditional blender.
If I also wanted an excuse to post this recipe again to tempt T into making it before the tomatoes are lousy, well, I’ll never tell.
The fall this year has been kind of strange up until now: unlike last year, September has been largely warm and even pretty sunny, so I haven’t had many cravings for fall food just yet. I’ve transitioned my spring/summer salad into my fall/winter one because the price of strawberries are once again high, but there have been no braises or stews just yet, and I’m still very much wanting pestos rather than ragus. I would say that it’s almost as if summer hadn’t left us, but the days getting shorter serves as a constant reminder that fall is here, and winter is coming. (Brace yourselves.)
My lamenting of summer passing aside, I will say that this Tuscan sausage and grape dish is quite divine. A few seasons of Barefoot Contessa are available via Amazon Prime, and while they aren’t the super-early seasons we all love, they are solid episodes from her “Back to Basics” period which means she’s not simply asking her chef friends to make cooking segments for her show. There’s not much to this dish: just some good sausage, some grapes, some Chianti and balsamic vinegar, but it might be a perfect transitional dish from summer into fall: rich, but not overwhelming.
The modified Tomato pesto can be found below:
Even more adapted from Made in Sicily
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds
- 18 oz plum tomatoes, cored and seeded and roughly chopped (ETA: this would be about 4-6 fresh plum tomatoes, depending on size)
- 4 garlic cloves
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups (most of a bunch) of fresh mint
- Olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving
First, toast the almonds: either in an oven heated to 350 degrees or a small pan on the stove, toast the almonds until golden. Let cool slightly, then chop well. Add the almonds, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, mint, and some olive oil (save some to add later) to a sturdy bowl and using a stick blender, carefully start blending until a thick paste is formed. Stir in the cheese, and then add hot pasta of choice and stir well to combine. Serve immediately with more cheese or cool and store.