I have been wanting to make Pesto alla trapanese for a while. This is a traditional Western Sicilian pesto that is used to make Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese or pasta cull’agghia in the Sicilian dialect This is a typical dish from the province of Trapani, in Sicily. The pesto is also a traditional Sicilian food products, which is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in Italy.
Pesto alla trapanese is an ancient sauce, that originated from the the port of Trapani. It was influenced by the Genovese, who arrived on ships to the Trapani ports with their Agliata ligure, a traditional garlic sauce, made of garlic and walnuts. The Trapanese sailors, then developed their own interpretation using typical produce from their region, tomatoes and almond.
The main ingredients of this pesto is basil , tomato and almonds. Other ingredients that are added to classic recipes include red garlic, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and sometimes grated Sicilian Pecorino cheese.
The pasta that is traditionally paired with this pesto is fresh Busiati pasta, which is also typical of Trapani. It is a type of macaroni-like pasta that has been twisted around a branch of the Mauritania grass (dis grass). Another pasta that is often use is Gnoccoli, which is about 15 cm long and has a large cavity. They also use Linguine or Bucatini, which are also long pastas. Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese can be served hot or cold and is usually served along side Eggplant, Fried Potatoes or Fried Fish.
Making this pesto is really easy. I have never blanched almonds before, but it doesn’t take long and worth the effort, as blanched almonds usually cost more. I noticed initially the color of my pesto was quite green, unlike many recipes I saw online which had a yellow-orange colour. However, this color changed the next day, after it had been sitting in the fridge in a sealed container. Nevertheless still tasted the same.
I first used the pesto to make a sauce for my pizza. It went really well with the spicy red chili salty black olives and slightly bitter rocket. I ended up eating my whole pizza. It was so moresome. Today I used the pesto again to make Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese . I just used spaghetti, as this pesto requires long pasta as it coats it better, than short pastas. I added some vegan cashew parmesan, more salt and pepper and a handful of olives again. The almonds in the pesto make this dish really filling and the tomatoes and cashew parmesan bring a beautiful creaminess to the dish.
Pesto alla trapanese (vegan, gluten free, soy free)
250g cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of basil
1 red garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. First blanch almonds by bring a small pot to the boil, then cooking them for 2-3 mins. Remove almonds and rinse with cold water, then remove the brown skins.
2. Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 1 minute, then emerging them in cold water. The skins should easily peel off now.
3. In the processor (or mortar and pestle) add the almonds, basil, and garlic. Process until they are ground down.
4. Then add the tomatoes, followed by the olive oil, salt and pepper. Processor until it liquefy into a dense consistency.
Pizza with Pesto alla trapanese, Chili, Black olives and Rocket (vegan, soy free)
1 pizza base
3 tablespoons pesto alla trapanese
2 small red chili, diced
1/4 red onion, sliced
small handful of black olives (deseeded and halved)
large handful of rocket leaves
sea salt and black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil to taste
1. Roll out pizza dough, then cover the base equally with the pesto.
2. Add red onion, garlic, black olives. Sprinkle vegan parmesan, then cook the pizza in the oven until base is cooked.
3. Add the rocket, salt, pepper and lightly drizzle some olive oil.
Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)
1 serve spaghetti (use gluten free if you prefer)
3 tablespoons Pesto alla trapanese (recipe above)
2 tablespoon cashew parmesan
sea salt & pepper to taste
small handful of black olives, deseeded
1. Cook 1 serve of pasta according to pack directions.
2. Once the pasta is cooked, use a tongs to move it from the pot into a mixing bowl.
3. Add the pesto, vegan parmesan, black olives, sea salt and black pepper. Toss until the pasta is coated. Then serve immediately.