Pesto Trapanese is the Sicilian version of the popular pesto pasta sauce. It originated in Trapani region, where tomatoes and almonds are abundant. Raw tomatoes, fresh basil, almonds, olive oil, and pecorino cheese are processed or pounded into a textured sauce that can be served warm or cold.
The traditional pasta to accompany this sauce is Busiate, a long corkscrew shaped durum wheat and water based pasta (no eggs). It is difficult to find outside of western Sicily, so I used Bucatini. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can make your own Busiate.
I used a mixture of cherry and grape tomatoes from my garden, but any assortment of ripe, less watery (cherry, grape, roma) tomatoes will do.
Traditionally, the pesto is prepared with a mortar and pestle. I went the quick route with a food processor.
I lightly toasted the whole almonds on the stove before adding them to the food processor. I have also seen blanched almonds used in other recipes.
To make this vegan, you can use toasted breadcrumbs instead of cheese.
Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese
Adapted from Cookbooks 365 (site is currently down)
1 pound dried pasta
1/2 cup almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino cheese
Salt to taste
Pecorino cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, just tender. Drain.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, pulse the almonds in a food processor until almost powdery. Add the basil, garlic cloves, and cherry tomatoes. Process while slowly drizzling in the olive oil until sauce comes together. Mix in pecorino cheese and salt to taste.
Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately or cold with additional cheese and basil for garnish if desired.