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.
- 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)
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.
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.”