While basil pesto is the most well known pesto, every region in Italy makes pesto with freshly available local produce. According to Lidia Bastianich, the Italian cuisine expert, the word pesto comes from the verb ‘pestare‘, which means ‘to mash’. This means you can pretty much mash up any fresh ingredients to make a pesto, and toss it along with pasta, vegetables or chicken and you have a dish ready right there.
I’ve experimented with rocket-walnut pesto, spinach-peanut pesto and even one with sun-dried tomatoes. But this recipe is as authentic as it gets. Pesto Trapanese hails from Trapani in Sicily, which is known for its tomatoes and almonds.
To quote from Wikipedia:
It (Pesto Trapanese) is an ancient dish: the port of Trapani stopped the Genoese ships, from the East, that brought the tradition of garlic sauce from Liguria, based on garlic and walnuts, which was developed by sailors in Trapani with products their land, tomato and almonds
I love this bit of history behind this sauce, combining the best of two regions in one dish. It also works in my favour as I am fast trying to rescue the tomatoes ripening on the vine in my kitchen garden, from squirrels and other sundry pests. What better way to put them to use than in a beautiful and unusual pesto!
This is pretty much a kitchen garden pesto for me, except for the almonds of course.
In this recipe, the pasta is tossed in Pesto Trapanese (tomato-almond-basil pesto) and is garnished with a poor man’s Parmesan cheese.
And guess what that is!
Toasted bread crumbs, which not only look like cheese but have this extra crunch to the pasta dish.
A few tips to cook pasta right:
- Cook in plenty of water so the pasta has enough space to swim around and not stick to each other.
- The water should be adequately salted, it should taste like the sea water, is what the Italians say.
- Do not add any oil to the water to cook pasta or the sauce will not stick to it.
- Do not overcook the pasta, it should have a bite to it – i.e. al dente.
RECIPE FOR Penne Con Il Pesto Trapaenese | Penne in Pesto Trapanese
Large pot to boil pasta
Medium pot to blanche tomatoes
Food processor or large mortar pestle
Convection oven or Skillet or Microwave oven