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As an omnivore, I often have issues eating purely vegetarian dishes. Having been raised in a country at a time when meat was a commodity, most of my diet as a child have been vegetable based, seasoned with either lard, bacon, or bones. In my nearly 20 years in America, I’ve had no shortage of meat, yet I’ve only begun to appreciate meals that are completely vegetarian.

I found this pasta recipe on foodandwine.com not looking for a specifically vegetarian dish, but it looked so good and so easy that I decided to try it as a weekday meal with some steamed mussels. I have to say that this is a dish that I will definitely make again, and also serve to my vegetarian and vegan friends when possible.

The bread crumbs and roasted almonds adds crunchy texture to the pasta dish that is unexpected but very much welcomed. I used salted smoked almonds from the central market bulk department, which added an additional level of flavor to the dish.

To make the pesto, I first rehydrated some dry packed sun dried tomatoes in warm water for about an hour. The recipe called for oil packed sun dried tomatoes, but the dry packed ones are much healthier, and produce the same results. If you choose to use oil packed sun dried tomatoes, you don’t have to rehydrate it.

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Th rehydrated tomatoes are squeezed of excess water, then blended with garlic, salted, smoked, roasted almonds, along with olive oil, then seasoned with salt and pepper.

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The mixture is transferred to a bowl and set aside until the pasta is cooked.

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I would highly recommend making your own bread crumbs because the store bought ones are too fine. Since I was going to serve bread with the pasta anyways, I took the end pieces and broke them down to about 1/4 inch pieces. Then the bread crumbs are browned in a small pan with some olive oil.

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The bread crumbs are transferred to a small bowl and set aside until ready to be used.

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I cooked the pasta following the package instructions. You can use any pasta, the recipe called for spaghetti, but I substituted fettuccine since I had it in the pantry already.

The pesto is tossed into the fettuccine with some pasta cooking water until the sauce clings to the pasta.

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The bread crumbs and chopped parsley are sprinkled on top of the pasta, and it is ready to serve.

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Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Pesto

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