Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pesto alla Trapanese

Tada... a relevation! Today I learned that I don't need meat sauce with my pasta to have a hearty delicious meal. I saw this Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto alla Trapanese) recipe on America's Test Kitchen's Saucy Italian Favorites episode. I thought it was very clever of the Sicilians to use fresh tomatoes and almonds instead of pine nuts as the main ingredients for their pesto. I like the fact that you can make this dish in less than 20 minutes and still end up with a fantastic satisfying meal. The only thing that I would change if you decide to make this, is to double up the portion because you might find yourself in a similar situation where you can't stop eating because it's so delicious!

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 small pepperoncini (hot peppers in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) - I substituted this with 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes soaked with 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
  • Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.
  • Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini (or red pepper flakes with vinegar), and 1 teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.
  • Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.
  • Add pesto and 1/2 cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.


  1. simple but so delicious! I love the naked-ness of this dish! Plus, I adore almonds, so this is a true winner on all accounts. :-)

  2. hi,

    this looks great, but i am super wimpy when it comes to heat/spice... i mean super wimpy. could i skip the pepperocinis/red pepper flakes? if so, is there a substitute that might work?

  3. Anonymous: Yes, you definitely can skip the pepperocinis/red pepper flakes. To be honest, I couldn't taste the heat much because of the creamy almond & tomato paste. Maybe you can substitute it with some paprika/grated nutmeg to give it some smokiness and spice without the heat?

  4. Oooh, I love the sound of this. Almonds and tomatoes on pasta...perfect!!