Before we visited Sicily a couple of years ago, the only pesto I know was ‘Pesto alla Genovese’, the one from Genoa with basil and pine nuts. Discovering ‘Pesto Trapanese’ was such a lovely surprise. 🙂 In a typical Sicilian fashion, they use the most common type of nut in their island – almonds. Admittedly, pistachio from Sicily is also quite well-known, but almonds, apparently is grown more in the entire island.
Pesto Trapanese, got its name from a city situated in the western part of Sicily – Trapani. It took us less than two hours to drive from Palermo to Trapani and the thing that stood out for me the most from Trapani are the salt flats. It is quite impressive to see that up till now they are still producing salt in that area. Old windmills that used to pump seawater are still standing, and along the road, you will see mounds (or mini hills?) of salt; and then of course, the salt flats are surrounded by the waters of Mediterranean.
Back to pesto Trapanese! 🙂 Tomatoes and almonds are the main ingredients for this pesto. I know some people prefer to blanch and remove the skin of the tomatoes first. For me personally, I prefer to use cherry tomatoes and I use all of it, skin and seeds. But, of course, since we are using fresh tomatoes, the pesto will never be as red as a tomato sauce, it will always be on the orangey side – at least that’s how it’s always been for me whenever I use fresh tomatoes. (I finally stopped complaining about it, just recently 😉 ).
You can use any kind of pasta with pesto Trapanese, but I strongly suggest using those kind with patterns on them, like fusilli. This way, the pesto will get stuck between the ridges and you get more of the pesto with every bite. 🙂
- 500 grams pasta
- 350 grams cherry tomatoes
- 15 pieces fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 60 grams (about 1/3 cup) almonds, blanched
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmigiano , (or a mix of pecorino and parmigiano)
Cook the pasta as per package instruction.
Put everything in a blender except olive oil and cheese. Blend (or blitz) until it becomes a fine puree. Slowly pour in the olive oil. This will turn the puree into a thicker consistency (a pesto). Taste and adjust the seasoning of the pesto by adding more salt or chili flakes.
Once the pasta is ready, add it to the pesto and mix a bit to combine. Add the cheese and toss to distribute the cheese properly.
Serve. Feel free to add more cheese, if desired.