In winter, when fresh tomatoes aren’t at their peak of ripeness and flavor, this is a great way to get your tomato fix. Sun-dried tomatoes are a wonder ingredient: They offer the rich, sweet flavors of fresh tomatoes, but they’re available year-round, they have a long pantry life, they don’t take up much room, and they pack a lot of flavor into a small punch. This pesto is a great topping for sautéed or grilled fish, and it’s also wonderful for a picnic because it can be eaten cold or hot. Also perfect over penne.
In the Bowl of a food processor, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil with the basil and garlic just until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl, and stir in the cheese and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste. (This pesto will last for 1 week if stored in an airtight container.)
For this dish, I like to use sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil because the oil has had time to marinate with the tomatoes, thus adding a heightened flavor to this pesto. If you can’t find the oil-packed ones, then soak dry sun-dried tomatoes in extra-virgin olive oil for 12 hours.