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These sun dried tomatoes aren’t technically dried by the sun but by the oven. This is a time consuming process but the tomatoes can be prepared a few days ahead of time. When the process is broken up its a breeze. The pesto can be made up to a week ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for a few months so its a great meal to prep ahead of time.
The most time consuming part of this recipe is dehydrating the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise then place them skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. I’m not sure if it’s a ocd thing or if it actually matters that the tomatoes are skin side down. It looks pretty cool when they’re all arranged on a wire rack like that. It may help you avoid some unwanted pan scrubbing from tomatoes guts dripping on the pan and slowly drying out. My pan came out of the oven completely free of any tomato debris. Unless you are planning on getting a early start on this recipe I’d do this part a day ahead of time.
Fast forward to the tomatoes being dehydrated. Now it time to turn the delicious concentrated tomato flavor into a pesto. Add the tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and toasted walnuts to a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until they’re finely chopped but you don’t want them to make a paste. Last, add the parmesan cheese, pulse the food processor a few times to incorporated, scrape down the sides to make sure everything is mixed. Time to make some pasta.
Cook the pasta shells according to the directions on the box. When the shells are just about done cooking, reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain the shells then return to the pot they were cooked in. Add the pesto and half of the reserved pasta water. Stir everything together until it forms a cohesive sauce. If the sauce is still thick then add more pasta water. The sauce should have a creamy consistency. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, parmesan cheese, and parsley.
Food processor (Ninja BN801 Professional Plus Kitchen System) – Affiliate link
I picked this food processor/blender combo up this past summer. It’s been a great addition to the kitchen. I’ve made everything from hummus to smoothies. Another plus is that it saves kitchen space. One motor for the blender, food processor, and cup blender.
USA Pan Half Sheet Baking Pan and Nonstick Cooling Rack – Affiliate link
This is a great heavy duty combo pan and rack. I picked mine up from a Homegoods for about the same price.
Messermeister Royale Elité Stealth 9″ Chef’s Knife – Affiliate link
I’ve been using this knife for about 2 years now, it’s an absolute work horse. It stays sharp for a very long time, has great balance, and it’s just a beautiful knife.
20oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c toasted walnuts
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 box large pasta shells
1 c pasta water
- Start by placing the cherry tomato halves skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Dehydrate in a 225 degree pre heated oven for 4 hours. Prepare all of the other ingredients while the tomatoes are in the oven.
- When the tomatoes are done add them to a food processor along with the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and toasted walnuts. Pulse the processor for about 20 seconds or until everything is chopped up fairly small but not a paste. Finally, add the parmesan cheese, pulse a very times to incorporate.
- Cook pasta shells according to the direction on the box. Scoop about one cup of pasta water out of the pot before the shells are done cooking. Drain the shells then return them to the pot.
- Add the pesto and half of the reserved pasta water back to the pot, gently mix it together.
- If the sauce is still thick add more water until it loosens up a little bit
- Plate up the pasta, garnish with freshly ground black pepper, parmesan cheese, and parsley