pasta with pesto and cherry tomato salad*

it looks like the entire U S of A is experiencing quite the heat wave.
i know it's hot here.

yesterday morning i got up early and picked some tomatoes and basil and basically assembled dinner before i had my breakfast.   i was happy i had done this at dinner time.
all i had to do was cook a package of spaghetti and dinner was done.

i found this recipe while waiting in a doctors office many years ago.
it was an old magazine and i'm not quite sure how it happened but the page found its way into my handbag.  oh i hate people like me.
it's from the restaurant tra vigne which i had the pleasure to eat at while visiting the napa valley.  it truly is one of my all-time favorite recipes.
give it a try and i'm sure it will become one of yours too.

i substitute nutritional yeast for the traditional parmesan.


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 T pine nuts or walnuts
1 t salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c nutritional yeast

place first 5 ingredients in food processor or blender slowly adding the olive oil.
add the nutritional yeast and pulse a few times.  refrigerate until ready to serve.

cherry tomato salad

3 cups or so of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 c chopped basil leaves
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

combine and chill.

cook a package of spaghetti and toss with pesto.
plate and then top with the tomato salad.

*no animals were harmed making this delicious pasta dish



  1. Hello Janet:
    This looks and sounds to be absolutely delicious and very quick and easy to prepare. We cannot have enough tomatoes at this time of year and the Hungarian ones are particularly good.

  2. This is one of my favorite meals. Quick and easy.

    I found a vegan pesto in the freezer section of Whole Foods, perfect if you're especially lazy about cooking in the summer like I am.

  3. Janet, could you tell me more about nutritional yeast? Not familiar with it. Just picked my fresh basil and will make some pesto today. Thanks, Marg

  4. This looks so refreshing, Janet! I need to water my basil twice a day in this heat, so I think it's time to harvest it. This is the perfect way to use it, I think. I do the same thing with those waiting room magazines...I usually cough a few times to deflect attention away from the sound of ripping paper ;)

  5. It's so hot up here in the far north amazingly as well. This salad looks and sounds divine. I'm growing my own tomatoes this year!

  6. We'll let you off nicking the recipe from the magazine in the waiting room seeing as you were kind enough to share! It looks delicious and I'm off to Google "Nutritional yeast". Bon appetite! xxx

  7. ◄-y-u-m-►
    i use nutritional yeast in everything, most notably, on popcorn.
    i have been doing this for more than 20 years.
    i buy nutritional yeast in the bulk section of my co-op, but they also have it in the bulk section of my closest grocery store. it looks a bit like fish food flakes, but not multicolored - it is all yellow. we love the taste & it gives you lots of B12 ♥

  8. This looks so delicious and simple! I guess we all know what's for dinner now. ;-)


  9. Looks like summer on a plate!

    I haven't been to Tra Vigne in years but I often drive past it...and now, when I do, I will think of you and your tasty looking past dish!

  10. I do that all the times with recipes in magazines at doctor's offices....glad I am not alone! And I made that for dinner last night minus the nutritional yeast...we just can't do it, way too strong of a taste for us....Marsha

  11. That looks great and we have always adored pesto. I now make pesto without oil by blending water and light miso paste with the basil, blk pepper, and fresh garlic. If I have them I also add pine nuts, for the flavor, but not necessary. The fermented miso, makes a great substitute for the salty/smelly parmesan that would normally be in the pesto. (lets face it, when you've been off cheese for awhile, "good" parm smells kinda like feet.) Tossed in with pasta some lightly steamed green and yellow squash, or some tomatoes, and or portobellas you have a light but filling and fairly elegant summer dish sans meat. Even the pasta with just pesto is great.

  12. Thanks Janet - great recipes!

    I am "leaning" in to vegetarianism - these recipes help and I am feeling much better, I think, though it could be all in my head! :-)

  13. I'm with 3 Peanuts on the yum. And, Shell, your revipe without oil and using miso paste sounds sooooo good. I miss having my own kitchen. -Suzanne in Illinois

  14. This looks delicious. I have everything for this so I'm making it tomorrow for dinner. Tonight, it's leftover homemade Pad Thai. And sorry to boast but where I live (Central Coast of California) the weather is currently very pleasant and lovely. Don't hate :-)

  15. It looks delicious, and so summery. I'm assuming the spaghetti is hot, and the cherry tomato salad cold? Must be such a nice mix of flavors.

  16. I wish I had seen this before i made dinner....but another 24 hours from now we'll be hungry again...

    xo Jane

  17. Oh looks so pretty. I can't believe YOU tear things out of magazines! My kids are so bothered by my doing this occasionally...they are such little rule followers. I don't know where they get it...not from me obviously!

  18. janet,
    you sure know how to dish it out....pasta....soap....what's next...~

  19. SOUNDS WONDERFUL!! Tomorrow's dinner. Thanks for all the inspiration... not quite vegan yet, but working on it still.

  20. How funny - this is exactly what I made for dinner last night before I saw your post this morning! My daughters and I all fancied some pesto pasta and wolfed it down, and I just eat kilos of those cherry tomatoes all summer, anyway :) Yum.

  21. I love simple dishes like this!
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. Yum! I don't know what nutritional yeast is , but as I contemplate making my third batch of pesto, it might be something to consider?

  23. So glad you put it in your handbag (the recipe, not the dish!) for us all to share. Looks DELISH! Thanks Janet. (And yes, I do the same - only OLD mags of course you know) x

  24. you can't go wrong with those ingredients!

  25. Make something similar in the summer with lots of ripe sweet cherry tomatoes from the garden. But I lightly fry the tomatoes in a little olive oil first to release more lycopene (very good for the guys) then add crushed garlic and just before serving add heaps of lightly toasted pine nuts, chopped basil (also from the garden) and parmesan and then toss it through the spaghetti with a little black pepper. It really tastes of the sun and is so easy. Best wishes, Pamela

  26. I love pasta and pesto but think I must be the only vegetarian in the world who doesn't like tomatoes!

  27. This is my kind of meal Janet!!
    Here's another similar easy one.
    Pasta Cruda
    5 roma tomatoes chopped, 1 package fresh basil chopped, 1-2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 TBS of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
    Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and leave on counter, covered with saran wrap, all day long. Stir occasionally.
    Toss with warm pasta. We like rigatoni or bow tie. Great to eat at room temp,or left over cold.
    This is also good as a bruschetta topper.
    I promise, you will love it!

  28. Looks and sounds wonderful!
    What is "nutritional yeast"?? What does it do to the dish do you think?
    p.s. ohhhh geeze- looks like it's going to be 106 there for the next two days :O :O (I have you on my iphone weather page;) Thank goodness for a.c., yes?!!! stay cool.xx

  29. No. I LOVE people like you:). We're still cool in SF - thank you marine layer. Let's all try and use less fossil fuel, OK?

  30. If you want to make this vegetarian, rather than vegan, add some fresh mozzarella cheese (the kind that is packed in water) after you've mixed the pesto, tomatoes, and hot pasta. It goes all melty and makes strands of cheese that look like telephone wires, so the Italians call it pasta al' telefono

  31. Looks fresh and delicious and that combination is pure heaven.

  32. Nom nom nom--making this for sure.
    I used to also rip out the recipes and about a year ago, I had an idea to start taking a photograph of the recipe with my smartphone. No paper waste, nobody leering at you and no guilty conscious:)

  33. olive oil is not a healthy fat. you can get all the fat you need by adding whole foods like nuts and seeds to your salad, not processed oils.

    My favorite no-oil salad dressing is from Rip Esselstyns book:

    3 T balsamic vinegar
    2 T dijon mustard
    1 T maple syrup or agave
    splash of water, perhaps some pepper.

    Another standard Essylstyn salad dressing recipe I tweaked is seasoned rice vinegar, a little dijon mustard and then I use minced shallot instead of garlic, and about a teaspoon of raspberry jam.

    OR... use any fruit.. peaches, raspberries, blueberries etc etc….. some red wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar, a small shallot, dash of maple syrup and some pepper.. Vitamix it up. and its awesome!

    1. Not sure what the problem with a little olive oil is, especially if it's a reliable brand and is first cold pressed. It's monosaturated and therefore is much better for heart health than butter or coconut oil. My doctor recommends a little olive oil rather than saturated fats, a natural part of a Mediterranean diet. Also, if the tomatoes have been allowed to ripen on the vine there's absolutely no need to add any form of sugar, whether as jam or maple syrup or whatever. Personally I dislike salads that taste sweet, except where it's the natural sweetness of the fresh salad ingredients. Much prefer for the natural flavour of the fresh ingredients to shine through rather than being swamped in a sickly dressing - balsamic vinegar is already sweet, so adding maple syrup as well sounds absolutely ghastly. I love to add a dash of home grown fresh lime that has been allowed to really ripen on the tree. Gives a great zing.

  34. Once the doctor walked thru the door at the precise moment I was tearing the page from a magazine.
    As my boys would say "BURN"

  35. this looks delish...I LOVE nutritional yeast, so looking forward to trying this :)


kindness is never out of style.

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