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Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta (Pesto alla Trapanese)
I know what you’re thinking, that you’ve seen the pictures that accompany recipes for Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto, more commonly known as Pesto alla Trapanese and it usually looks, well, less green. But that is the beauty of this dish, a wonderful summery twist on a classic bowl of pesto pasta, the addition of ripe tomatoes gives it not only a wonderful summery flavour (honestly, I’ve gone off regular pesto in recent years but I could eat this with a spoon) but it means it will come our however it wants too with home grown ingredients.
Perfect to serve up as a speedy supper when you’ve been too busy to do much (all you have to do is blitz together the pesto whilst the pasta is cooking) serve it with whatever carb you fancy and have on hand. Obviously I’ve gone with lovely little trofie pasta here as the little spirals are so well suited to sauces like this, but I have a suspicion it would go well tossed with gnocchi, too.
Before we move onto the recipe for this Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto proper, I do want to have a word about food processors. I know the authentic way to make a Pesto alla Trapanese is to make it in a mortar and pestle, but I like to leave things like that for long lazy afternoons. I’d do it that way were I in a villa in Italy, but right now I’m thinking about dinner because it has been one of those summers full of renovation projects and sleepless nights that has me begging for autumn.
Anyway, so the pesto you see in these pictures was made in my Ninja bullet blender (ad) only because I’m having trouble with my beloved Kenwood Mini Chopper (ad) where I think I may have burnt out to motor. I’m flagging this because using a high powder blender like the Ninja made this pesto smoother than I’d planned. It turns out I really like it that way, which is why I’ve gone ahead and shared the recipe, but for a more traditional, chunkier pesto, the mini chopper would be the better option, which is why I’ve included it in the recipe below.
This simple, basil-heavy version of a Pesto alla Trapanese – a Sicilian Tomato and Almond Pesto – is delicious folded through pasta for a speedy late summer dinner when you’ve got tomatoes in abundance. Also, made creamy with almonds not pecorino, it is happily vegan without any omissions or substitutions!
200g (7 oz) dried pasta
175g (6 1/4 oz) very ripe tomatoes
30g (1 oz) fresh basil leaves
25g (3/4 oz) blanched almonds
1 small garlic clove, peeled
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Cook the pasta as per the packets instructions in a pan of boiling, salted water. I usually start checking for doneness around the 12 minute mark.
Meanwhile, blitz all the pesto ingredients in a mini chopper until you have a rough pesto, blitzing to make it smoother if desired. Season to taste with sea salt.
Drain the pasta and fold in the pesto. It should be saucy enough to not require any pasta cooking water to help the pesto cling to the pasta shapes.
Many recipes call for removing the skins from the tomatoes. I find this fiddly, and I think leaving them on adds more character and tomato flavour to the finished dish!
If you only have a bullet blender not a mini chopper, you’ll still have a delicious, just less traditionally chunky pesto.
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