I’m from northern Italy – only been to Sicily once – and I only had heard about this dish before moving to Canada. Thanks to my friends food-bloggers, however, this dish tickled my attention, I starting making it, and I think it has already become part of my repertoire! What I love about Pesto alla Trapanese is how fresh it tastes, and that it can be prepared quickly (as the pasta cooks) and pretty much all year-round (unlike Pesto alla Genovese which requires large amounts of fresh basil, which is best in the summer).
Since I’m far from an authority on this dish, I’m presenting a variation over Frank Fariello‘s rendition. Similarly, it makes use of uncooked cherry tomatoes that are mixed in with other ingredients in a blender – a method quite common these days, as opposed to using mortar and pestle (which is traditional and at the origins of the name “pesto”). Aside from the blending technique, I substituted Pecorino for the milder (though geographically incorrect!) Parmigiano, and increased the amount of almonds for a grittier and drier sauce.
- 6-8 (140 g, 5 oz in weight) cherry or strawberry tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 8 basil leaves
- 40 g (1 ½ oz) almonds, blanched (chopped or whole)
- 40 g (1 ½ oz) Parmigiano, coarsely grated
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 140 g (5 oz) spaghetti, linguine, or even short pasta like farfalle or fusilli
- coarse salt (1/2 Tbsp per liter, 2 Tbsp per gallon of boiling water)
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil.
- Toast the almonds in a pan at high heat for a couple of minutes until they get some color, but before they turn dark.
- Core the tomatoes and score their skin (see illustration on the side).
- Boil the tomatoes for 20 seconds, then dip them in cold water to stop the cooking. Keep the water boiling, you’re going to use it to cook the pasta.
- Salt the water and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
- As the pasta cooks, peel the tomatoes and squeeze them to remove seeds and excessive liquid.
- In a blender, mix all ingredients so that they turn creamy, but still a bit coarse. I used an immersion blender and it worked very well.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back in the pot along with the pesto. Mix gently and serve immediately.