Baking day here at the homestead…..trying my hand at homemade Panettone. (I will report back as to whether it was a success – not so sure on this one!!) So with the counters (and me) covered in flour and dinner hour approaching, I was hoping to come up with something that did not necessitate a run to the market or lots or prep. And then I spied a bag of slivered almonds on the counter ….extras from baking. Voila! Pesto trapanese – a wonderful Sicilian pesto that is made from ground almonds, tomatoes, basil and garlic – and no cooking required. I first tasted this wonderful sauce on the western side of Sicilia where almond trees abound due to the warm Mediterranean climate and with the strong Arab influence, almonds are a frequent ingredient in its dishes along with capers and raisins. This bright and delicious sauce is a snap to pull together and the only thing that needs to be cooked is the pasta. Simple, tasty and elegant. (I have made this sauce a day ahead – it keeps well when refrigerated for a day or two.)
And more on the (hopefully) rising panettone soon! Buon appetito!
Pasta with Pesto Trapanese
1 pint ripe cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup skinless almonds (hint: use slivered almonds as they are skinless)
1/2 cup fresh basil, about 12 large leaves
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
A sprinkle or two of hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or to taste)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound of spaghetti or linguine
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Romano
1 small saute pan, food processor or blender, large pot to cook the pasta, large bowl to mix the pasta and pesto
- Place the almonds in a small saute pan and heat over medium heat until toasted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Put the cherry tomatoes in the food processor and blend. Add the toasted almonds, fresh basil, garlic cloves, sprinkle of hot pepper and salt. Blend to puree. Scrap down any bits that may have wandered up the sides. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- With processor running, add in the olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente.
- In the meantime, warm a large serving bowl. Add the pesto to the bowl.
- When pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and while still warm, add to the pesto. Stir to combine. Add the parmesan cheese and toss again.
- If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to thin a bit. Adjust seasonings and serve!!