Pesto Trapanese

July 14, 2014
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A fresh, summery Sicilian pesto with almonds and fresh tomatoes as the protagonists. This is only lightly adapted from a recipe from La Cucina Accademia Italiana. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 10 ripe plum tomatoes (San Marzano and Roma are best)
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) blanched almonds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) dried breadcrumbs, optional (or Parmesan cheese, grated)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Score the underside of the tomatoes with a cross and blanch in a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute. Peel off the skins then chop into quarters. Remove the seeds and then roughly chop the rest of the flesh. Set aside.
  2. Toast almonds in a moderate oven until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. In a mortar, grind the garlic, basil leaves, and a pinch of salt with a drizzle of olive oil until creamy. Add the almonds and continue grinding until fine and creamy (it will still be slightly grainy or chunky). Add the tomatoes; depending on your preferences, squash them gently or leave them slightly chunky. Add the rest of the olive oil in a drizzle until well combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning, then add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. If desired, toast the breadcrumbs in a wide skillet with some olive oil until they're golden and serve this over the pasta in place of Parmesan cheese.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.
  • healthierkitchen
  • Jo Switten
    Jo Switten
  • KirstenS
  • Emiko

16 Reviews

Deborah June 30, 2022
Love, love, love this recipe! Followed the recipe with slightly generous amounts of almonds and garlic and it was perfect. Definitely serve with Parmesan. My husband enjoyed his with a balsamic drizzle!
Jennifer September 14, 2016
Lynne Rosetto Kasper's version calls for pistachios as well as almonds. The reasoning is that supermarket almonds are nowhere near as the (often fresh) almonds one can get in Sicily. I've tried it both ways and definitely prefer it with a good portion of pistachios.
Stephanie B. September 14, 2016
Ok I have basically started stalking your food52 posts because everything has been amazing (the raw tomato sauce with toasted spaghetti: sooooo good!) Apart from singing your praises, I wanted to ask if you have any suggestions for almond substitutions? My husband is allergic to almonds, but not other nuts.
Emiko September 14, 2016
Haha thank you! I agree with Jennifer's suggestion, if you like pistachios (which I do love), they would be fantastic. Or you could use pine nuts like in a Ligurian pesto, which would make it slightly creamier. Walnuts are also good in this too.
Lindsay September 24, 2015
Can I use canned tomatoes?
Brooke September 24, 2015
Yes but the flavor won't be like using fresh.
Jessica November 4, 2014
Can I freeze this pesto? I'd only need enough for two, so if I made the full recipe I wouldn't want it to go to waste.
Amedeo M. August 21, 2014
food processor is OK!!! mortar and pestle require a skll very few have. It is really a wondrful recipe and this time really authentic!
Liz B. August 18, 2014
Made this earlier tonight and it was wonderful. I made a few substitutions and it still turned out well. Used a tiny food processor due to lack of mortar and pestle, and used 3 vine ripened tomatoes due to the size of processor. Definitely enough for about 6 portions. I found that it was still nicely chunky, with crunchy almonds in every bite. I also ended up juicing a whole lemon into this because it seemed like it needed some acidity, and then grated some Parmesan before serving. I think the cheese really set it off. My favorite pesto!
healthierkitchen July 24, 2014
I made this last night and was unsure in advance how much pasta it would cover. 1/2 lb? This didn't seem like enough for 1 lb. Quite delicious though - I liked it better than prior versions I've made using slow roasted or jarred sun dried tomatoes!
Emiko July 24, 2014
In Italy, 80 grams of pasta per person per serve is considered just right. So because this is for 4 serves, this pesto recipe should be enough for 320 grams of pasta (or about 11 ounces or 3/4 pound). Thanks for the feedback!
healthierkitchen July 25, 2014
Yes, that sounds like it would have been the perfect amount! I had made the whole pound because teenage son home, but next time will go with about three quarters, or even half and have some left for vegetables! Thanks.
Jo S. July 24, 2014
I suppose you could do that, but you would loose the chunkiness that gives this dish the right texture :) I made this dish several times and I just love the addition of the muddica :)
KirstenS July 23, 2014
Can I do this in a food processor?
Emiko July 24, 2014
You could do, but as Jo says, you will get a different result, a smoother sauce rather than a slightly chunky, thick, pesto! ;)
tessga August 15, 2014
I only have a very small mortar pestle for spices so i used my food processor pulse option, still was slightly chunky and thick, and super super good. I served on spaghetti squash, very complimentary.