Last night I roasted a beautiful piece of salmon with a simple olive oil, salt and pepper rub. I needed something fast, fresh and delicious to compliment the salmon. Truthfully I raided the refrigerator, and found a carton of basil which inspired the pasta dish. I didn’t want to make a traditional pesto, just something a little bit lighter and more acidic, but still with the wonderful fresh herbal flavor. So the carton of basil evolved into a fresh vinaigrette of sorts that was tossed with hot pasta so that the sauce really soaked into the pasta. I served it still hot with the cherry tomatoes and the salmon, and it was a wonderful and easy summer dinner.
1 lb box of dried pasta, (I used rotelle)
Cook until al dente in salted water according to package directions.
3 large garlic cloves
4oz of fresh basil leaves, stripped from the stems
½ cup good extra virgin olive oil
Juice of two small lemons
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
½ pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
First, I stuck the garlic cloves in the pasta water and boiled them for a few minutes (just to remove some of that raw garlic bite). Remove the soft cloves and place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Sprinkle the garlic cloves with salt and add the basil leaves. Pulse the food processor, and then slowly add the olive oil while pulsing. Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is done, drain and empty into a serving bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the top of the pasta and add the cherry tomatoes. Mix to coat the pasta evenly and serve hot. (This could also be made ahead of time and served cold as a pasta salad).