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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trapanese Pesto Recipe

Summer is bright red, hot, juicy and sweet. So it's ironic that tomatoes don't really become ripe until the last gasp of Summer and into early Fall. To savor a bit more of the flavor of Summer, I recently made a delicious variation on the Genovese pesto recipe, a Sicilian recipe from Trapani with chunks of ripe tomato.

Trapanese Pesto is a twist on the classic and in addition to tomatoes, it includes some mint, almonds, a dash of chili and pecorino instead of parmesan cheese. While I'm sorry I didn't try get to try this pesto when I was in Trapani, I am very glad I discovered it. Trapenese Pesto is spicier and more full-bodied than the Genoa version with cool and hot tones all at once. The almonds give it a distinctive creaminess.

I reviewed quite a few recipes before coming up with my own recipe. Like the more famous pesto there is no definitive version so if you feel like adding more oil or a handful of pine nuts, go right ahead. While sundried tomatoes are available all year round and make a lovely pesto, try this version now while fresh tomatoes are still sweet and juicy.

Trapanese Pesto
Enough for 1 pound dried spaghetti


1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup basil leaves (about one bunch)
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes


Place the almonds, garlic, and chili in a food processor and pulse just until roughly chopped. Add the mint, basil and cheese and pulse again briefly until everything is blended. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The texture should be chunky, not finely pureed. Transfer to a bowl and add the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning, adding a little salt if needed.