Spicy Red Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½

    cup drained jarred, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 3 1/2 ounces), roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup coarsely chopped walnuts (a scant 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 3

    tablespoons double-concentrated tomato paste (or 1/3 cup tomato paste)

  • 3

    garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • 1

    teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • Kosher salt and black pepper

  • ½

    cup drained chopped, jarred roasted red peppers (about 4 ounces)

  • 1 ½

    ounces finely grated Parmesan (about 1 packed cup), plus more for serving

  • 1

    pound rigatoni, orecchiette or other shaped pasta

  • Sliced fresh basil leaves, for serving

  • Fresh lemon zest, for serving (optional)

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare the pesto: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, tomato paste, garlic and red-pepper flakes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until mixture is toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to let cool for a few minutes.
  2. Add the roasted red peppers and Parmesan to a food processor. Top with the cooled tomato mixture and the remaining 2/3 cup olive oil, and pulse the mixture until you form a paste. (It makes 2 cups.)
  3. Season the boiling water generously with salt, then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  4. Return the pasta to the pot, along with about 1 1/2 cups of the red pesto and 1 cup of the pasta water, and stir vigorously until the sauce is glossy and the pasta is evenly coated. Stir in additional pesto or pasta water to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide among bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with torn basil. Shave some fresh lemon zest on top, if using. Serve immediately.