Pesto Trapanese

Take a break from your usual pine nut pesto and give toasted almonds and tomatoes a try in this healthy, refreshing and versatile sauce.
Photo by Aaron Graubart

This tomato-almond pesto is as versatile as the standard basil-pine nut version. Cherry tomatoes are the best year-round substitute for the island’s intensely flavorful sun-ripened tomatoes. In Sicily, this sauce is almost always served with busiate, a spiral-shaped pasta. You can coil your own fresh by winding thin strands of pasta dough around a skewer into a telephone-cord shape, or you can use fusilli or gemelli.

Classic At-Home Sicilian Cooking Recipes
Ingredients
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil and/or mint
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound halved cherry tomatoes
  • Toasted breadcrumbs or grated pecorino (optional)
Directions

In mortar and pestle or food processor, grind toasted almonds, garlic, basil and/or mint and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil into coarse purée. Add cherry tomatoes and drizzle in additional ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Process until pesto is creamy, but not completely smooth. Salt generously to taste. Toss with pasta and a little pasta-cooking water. Top with toasted breadcrumbs or grated pecorino. Serves 4–6.

Pair It

Benanti 2012 Pietramarina Bianco Superiore (Etna); 89 points, $80. “Carricante is Sicily’s noble, indigenous white varietal, producing a range from simple, everyday wines to ageworthy whites the equal of Grand Cru Chablis,” says Josh Nadel, wine director of Leuca in Brooklyn, New York, which specializes in Southern Italian food and wine. “Benanti’s Pietramarina, sourced from an 80-year-old vineyard on the eastern side of Mount Etna, is 100% Carricante, and irrefutably one of Italy’s greatest white wines.”

Published on March 21, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net



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