Makes 4 servings
One of the joys of this pesto is that it can be made in advance and refrigerated in a covered container for up to 3 days. Reheat it and toss with freshly cooked pasta. The chèvre will melt into the dish, creating a luscious creamy topping. Kids may prefer a garnish of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
For the pesto
¼ cup minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drain and reserve 1 tablespoon oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ cup Syrah or other full-bodied, peppery red wine
4 plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
For the pasta
12 ounces (4 cups) penne
¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces fresh white goat cheese (chèvre), at room temperature
Freshly ground pepper and sprigs of fresh basil for garnish
To make the pesto, heat the reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; stir constantly for about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining pesto ingredients. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When the sauce has just 10 minutes remaining, cook the penne according to package directions.
When the penne is done, drain well. Return it to the pot. Add the pesto and parsley; toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Top each serving with a dollop of chèvre and garnish with pepper and basil sprigs.