We all know and love a good basil pesto, or more precisely a Pesto Genovese. The thick, rich bright green salsa has become a staple in many kitchens and restaurants all over the world.
But did you know there is another pesto from the south of Italy that rivals the popular northern version?
I am talking about Pesto alla Trapanese. This pesto hails from the city of Trapani in Sicily. Although the base ingredients for these two pesto sauces are similar, pesto alla Trapanese uses almonds instead of pine nuts, reflecting the use of locally available ingredients, and fresh tomatoes to add a sweetness and a little acidity to the pasta sauce. A few leaves of mint give it some complexity.
This pesto is easy to make as all the ingredients can be put into a food processor and chopped into a slightly chunky puree. The word pesto comes from the Italian word ‘pestare’ meaning to pound or crush, so for a more traditional version, break out your mortar and pestle and do as the Sicilians do with this velvety, delicious Pesto alla Trapanese, I am sure it will become a staple in your kitchen.
RECIPE: Pesto alla Trapanese
- 70 gr. Toasted, blanched almonds
- 3 pcs. Garlic cloves
- 25 gr. Basil Leaves (about 30 leaves)
- 4 pcs. Mint leaves
- 50 gr. D.O.P. Pecorino Romano – Grated
- 50 gr. D.O.P. Parmigiano-Reggiano – Grated
- 400 gr. D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes – strained and chopped
- 80 ml. D.O.P. Olive Oil – Preferably Sicilian
- Crush almonds using a mortar and pestle until they are broken down to 2mm pieces.
- Add garlic and continue to crush with the almonds until a chunky paste is achieved.
- Add the basil and mint, crush until the leaves are completely broken apart.
- Add the cheeses, crush together briefly.
- Add the tomatoes and crush again creating a thick pesto.
- Stir in the olive oil and season with salt.
If using a food processor:
- Add the garlic and almonds to the food processor and pulse to chop the ingredients together into a coarse paste.
- Add the basil and mint, pulse repeatedly until the leaves are finely chopped.
- Add the cheeses, tomatoes and olive oil and puree to a thick sauce.
- Season with salt.