A recipe for Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese. This Sicilian pasta sauce highlights the best of summer with fresh basil, raw tomatoes, almonds, Pecorino, and olive oil.
Pesto alla Trapanese originated in Trapani region, where tomatoes and almonds are abundant, in western Sicily. Raw tomatoes, fresh basil, almonds, olive oil, and Pecorino cheese are processed or pounded into a textured sauce best served warm or cold. This pesto sauce requires no cooking at all, so it easily comes together with the help of a food processor in the time it takes to boil the pasta! You can also make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Traditionally, Pesto alla Trapanese is paired with Busiate (Busiati) a long coiled durum wheat pasta similar in shape to a telephone cord. It is made by wrapping pieces of the soft dough around a thin rod (ferro). The coiled shape is especially perfect for trapping the delicious sauce in every bite. I recently came across dried Busiate in World Market. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also make your own using this tutorial from Manu’s Menu. The sauce can also be paired with Casarecce, Cavatappi, Fusilli Bucati, or Spaghetti.
I made the sauce in a food processor for convenience. If using a mortar and pestle, halve the cherry tomatoes first to make them easier to crush. I added a mixture of cherry and grape tomatoes from my garden, but any assortment of ripe, less watery (cherry, grape, roma) tomatoes will do.
To make the Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese vegan, use toasted breadcrumbs instead of cheese.
Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese Recipe
Adapted from Cookbooks 365
Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese
- 1 pound dried pasta busiate if available
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- Salt to taste
- Additional 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.