Tomato Pesto and a Near Dough-Disaster

Today marks two weeks since I’ve had any caffeinated coffee!  This 30-Day Challenge has definitely made me realize one thing–30 days is a long time.  When I first committed to this, I was worried that it wouldn’t really be enough time to break the habit.  But let me tell you, these first two weeks have felt like an eternity!  I no longer have any doubt that a whole month is enough to get me out of this caffeine routine.  If I do choose to start drinking it occasionally after the 30-Day Challenge is over, at least I’ll know that it’s a conscious decision, not some automatic, impulsive drive over which I am powerless.  How are the other 30-Day Challenges going?  Anybody jump ship on us yet?

Tomato Pesto

tomato-pestoI got sort of pasta’d-out a few weeks ago, since it tends to be my fallback when I haven’t planned a meal and the sands in the hourglass are running out on Erin’s arrival home from work.  Because if she gets home from a long day at the hospital and there’s no dinner on the table and I’m in my underwear watching Pardon the Interruption, believe me, it isn’t pretty.

But the other day I figured that two weeks is enough of a break, so I got out the apron and did the only thing I enjoy more than watching ESPN in my knickers–make fresh pasta!  I almost always use King Arthur whole wheat flour when I make pasta, but this time I bought Hodgson Mill brand.  We’ve been buying their dried pasta recently and I’ve enjoyed it, so I saved a couple bucks–King Arthur is almost five dollars a bag–and bought the Hodgson Mill.

After I mixed about 4 cups of the flour with five eggs, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt, then kneaded for 15 minutes, the dough seemed a little coarse, but not alarmingly so:


After I let it rest for half an hour, we transported the dough and our Kitchen Aid over to my still-healing dad’s house to make dinner for him.  But when Erin tried to roll the pasta, near-disaster struck.   The dough was so coarse that it came out of the roller in crumbles!  It turns out in my Hodgson Mill excitement, I had purchased stone ground whole wheat flour, and that was the cause of the coarseness.  Don’t do this!  Thankfully, Erin has become pretty adept at averting fresh-pasta emergencies, and she saved this one by adding a good bit of water to the dough and rolling it lots of extra times.  Here it is on the road to improvement:


And finally, it was saved.


The pasta actually turned out to be pretty good.  A little bit rustic, but not bad at all.  Let’s leave it at “I’ll never buy stone ground flour for pasta again.”

My dad had found a recipe in Cooks Illustrated magazine for a tomato pesto.  I love a nice pesto and I was curious to try one with tomatoes, so we figured it would make a good post-surgery treat for him.  It turned out to be just ok.  The others at the table seemed to enjoy it, but I wasn’t thrilled.  For me it was just too liquidy.  In the recipe I’m giving you, I first remove the liquid from the tomatoes, and then increase the amount of almonds, garlic, and cheese.  If you make it, I’d love to hear how it is, so leave me a comment!

I have a few blog surprises in the works for the rest of the week; can’t wait to get them posted, so check back soon!

Tomato Pesto Recipe

Homemade Tomato Pesto
Serves: 4-6 Servings
  • ⅓ cup almonds, blanched
  • 5 plum tomatoes, halved, seeds and liquid removed and discarded
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 small pepperoncini, seeded
  • ⅓ cup canola or olive oil
  • 2 oz grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano really would be best)
  • 1 lb pasta, dried or fresh
  • 1 tsp salt, more at table
  1. Lightly toast the almonds, then let them cool. In a food processor, process the almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, and salt, until it's combined but still has a little texture. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Toss with parmesan cheese.
  2. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Cook fresh pasta the same as you would dried, but it only takes 2-4 minutes to cook. Toss with pesto and add salt as needed.


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  1. I love that you made your own pasta and it’s so great that Erin could save it! Thanks for making the updates to the recipe so it’ll be less watery – I like good, think sauces too!

    As far as the 30 Day Challenge goes, I have to fess up, hang my head, and admit that I’ve fallen off the wagon. As tends to happen when I force myself to give things up, I fixate on them and then just can’t help myself! Instead, I was thinking about a revised challenge for myself today – something I could ADD to my life, rather than subtract.

    SO. For the next 30 days, I will do 20 pushups (at least) every single day. I’ll admit, I’m not crazy about pushups, but I know they’re good for me, so here goes nothing!

    Katherine’s last blog post..Humpday “Quickie”

    • Ah well, at least you tried. And at least you can admit that it didn’t work out (there are many 30-day challengers who are suddenly MIA, hmmm).

      I like your idea of revising it and adding something instead. Good luck with the pushups!

  2. I was up late last night watching Alton Brown’s Good Eats show – he made a baked tomato sauce that looked so thick and delicious! Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite vegetable is, I say tomato sauce. Weird, but true 🙂

    Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen)’s last blog post..Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  3. i lust after your pasta roller. one of these days i’ll get around to picking that up.


    Laura M…ski’s last blog post..Blogging malaise?

  4. Colleen says:

    I am headed into day 11 of the 30 day challenge and, still, no soda for me! Although, I do really crave the taste of it…once the “habit” is broken, I do wonder if I could have it once in a while as a treat…but I must beware of that “moderation trap.”

    • Way to go! Definitely you can have it again once the habit is really and truly broken. But I think it’s good that for 30 days, you’re giving it up completely, not just reducing it. Keep it up, 19 more!

  5. One of these days I’m going to find the time to make fresh pasta. That dish looks sweet, and I mean that in a savory way.


    Mike Foster’s last blog post..More Fun With Fiber

    • From the name and looks of your blog, you shouldn’t have any problem making time for something, once you decide that you want to do it.

      I love making stuff like this from scratch. So many people are afraid to even try it, but it’s such a simple process that takes only about 20 minutes of hands-on time, plus a little longer to roll it, depending how you’re doing it. Great way to spend an hour on the weekend though. It’s making ravioli and stuffed pastas that becomes time consuming!

  6. Still going strong!

  7. I am still cutting down my coffee – I swear! I’ve moved it down to 1 cup in the morning (although I’ve had to retreat to my normal 2 or 3 on a couple of much-needed mornings). I do have to say, I feel less weighted down and better the less I drink.

    The pasta looks delish!

    Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian)’s last blog post..Walking Lunges are the Devil

  8. Nice job Holly! So glad to hear that my fellow coffee lover is still with us. Sounds like you are doing a good job with allowing yourself a little extra now and then but not blowing the whole thing because of it. I wish I had that kind of restraint, for me it seems it’s all or nothing!

    Funny thing, I’m a Caribou coffee right now (my absolute favorite coffee joint in the whole frickin world), and drinking tea 🙁 But hey, that’s why it’s called a challenge. Thanks for the update!

  9. Still going!! This has to be the longest 2 weeks ever! I’m still wrestling with the cravings and I’m a little apprehensive because I’m going out with a bunch of friends tomorrow night for dinner and drinks at The Cheesecake Factory- and I’ll have to say no to the cheesecake!! It’ll be ok because I really want to kick this once and for all. After two weeks, I already feel lighter and more energetic. Woot!
    PS: Nice apron!

    VeggieRunnr’s last blog post..Jerk Tempeh

  10. My first – and so far only – attempt at making fresh pasta was a near disaster. My dough seemed just perfect, but I was new to the whole process and because I didn’t roll the dough out thin enough before feeding it through the attachment, the dough came out in chunks. I did manage to salvage enough for dinner. Soon, I will try again. Serving it with tomato pesto is very appealing!

    Lisa’s last blog post..Pinto Bean and Zucchini Hummus

  11. Just made this with Asiago cheese and it was great, not too liquidy at all!

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