Updated: Feb 10, 2021
One of my favorite things about making pesto sauces professionally for a living is scheduling pesto playdates - by which I mean days I spend in my home kitchen, experimenting with recipes I collect from cookbooks and online. Sometimes, I play with new sauces we might one day want to sell through Sugo, but often, I will experiment with new pesto combinations I like the idea of, but that will probably be impractical for us to sell. It still makes me happy to make these sauces, if only for myself and any friends I think might like them, and thereby to put these delicious pesto varieties out into the world in some small way. These playdates are also a chance for me to let my hair down and explore without a particular goal in mind. Somehow, however, they always end up reminding me why pesto is such a versatile sauce to make, how delicious different variations can be, and why I continue to love making (and eating) it so much.
One such recent pesto playdate involved the Sun-dried Tomato and Olive from Patricia Well's Trattoria cookbook - a favorite of mine for many years now. The recipe is as easy to make as any other pesto, involving blending sun-dried tomatoes, wrinkly black olives, garlic, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Anyone who lived through the late eighties and nineties probably feels like they have already eaten enough sun-dried tomatoes to last a lifetime, but I happen to love the intensely rich tomato flavor that results - perhaps because I love wrinkly olives and any kind of tomato-based condiment, including Heinz ketchup. It's also extremely versatile, and would be delicious spread on crostini or panini, tossed with finely minced anchovy, or served with pasta and torn mozzarella, as I chose to eat it the other day (shown in the photo above). I haven't decided yet what to do with all the extra sauce I made - whether to give a few tubs to friends, or freeze and eat it all myself. In the meantime, I am looking forward to trying my new favorite pesto rosso in all kinds of new ways - including, dare I say, as a condiment for hamburgers and french fries.