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Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian)

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup slivered almonds
6 plum tomatoes, fresh in summer and canned in winter (Why? [1])
1/2-3/4 cup fresh basil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt [2]
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil [3]
1 lb fresh tagliatelle
1 cup caciocavallo or southern Italian pecorino cheese, finely grated

Heat water to boil for the pasta.

In a small sauté pan, toast the almond slivers over medium-low heat, watching carefully that they don’t burn. Set aside to cool.

Wash and dry the basil in a salad spinner. Grate the cheese and divide into two equal piles (1/2 cup each).

In a food processor, combine the almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Pulse to combine for 15 seconds. Wipe down sides with a spatula. With the motor running, add the olive oil slowly, about 15 seconds.


When the water is boiling, add two small handfuls of coarse sea salt and stir to dissolve. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, leaving 1/4 cup of water in the pan. Return the drained pasta to the pan and add the pesto and 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir to combine.

Divide the pasta among plates, garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and drizzle with a bit more olive oil.

Cook’s notes: