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Orecchiette with Fresh Tomatoes and Almond-Pecorino Pesto

This simple pasta features the classic combination of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil and cheese, with one surprise substitution: crunchy, salty roasted almonds instead of pine nuts.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted almonds
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 pound young pecorino cheese, such as fiore sardo, or young Manchego, coarsely shredded
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored and chopped


  1. In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the basil, almonds, garlic and crushed red pepper and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the pecorino and pulse until chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the olive oil. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot and add the pesto. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and cook over low heat, tossing, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 1 minute; add more of the pasta cooking water if the sauce is dry. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowls and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Nutty, medium-bodied Orvieto.

Published May 2007

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