So, it’s mid August and summer is literally in full bloom.
I know most of the store shelves are filled with back-to-school goodies and all the fall sweaters are replacing the bathing suits.
But, when it comes to food, we are all still eating all the local produce.
Tomatoes, basil and garlic are among some of the staples you’ll see in abundance now. And lucky for us, it’s what we need to make Pesto Alla Trapanese or Sicilian pesto!
Trapanese means literally “from the city or province of Trapani” and this pesto alla trapanese differs from the more popular pesto alla genovese because it replaces the pine nuts with almonds and adds in fresh summer tomatoes!
What is Pesto?
The word “pesto” actually comes from the verb pestâ or pestare in Italian, which means to pound or crush, in reference to how it was originally made. According to historical info, traditional Genoese pesto or pesto alla genovese, (you an find my recipe here) was made with all the ingredients you see here in this recipe in a mortar and “crushed” or ground using a circular motion with a pestal to create a paste.
In actual fact, pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding and that’s why the word is used for several different kinds of pestos in Italy. You can substitute any herb for the basil and use it in so many ways.
The History Behind the Sauce!
According to Nonna Box, this is a pretty good explanation:
“The story goes that pesto alla trapanese, also known as agghiata trapanisa, originated in the port of Trapani, a place of barter and exchange between cultures. It owes its origins to the transit of Genoese merchant ships loaded with products headed to the far East. Among these many products there was the Genoese agliata, a pesto prepared with basil, garlic and walnuts.
The people of Trapani adapted the recipe to the natural ingredients of their territory. Accordingly, they added what Sicily had to offer: almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. This gave rise to an ideal sauce for seasoning pasta, and also meat and bread. Consequently, this sauce became ideal for farmers and sailors.”
So, if I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to try this Pesto Alla Trapanese or Sicilian Pesto and here is what you’ll need:
- olive oil
- anchovies (or salt)
- hot peppers (optional)
Easy peasy right??
It is super easy to make and delicious as a dip on your salumeria (sorta Italian for charcuterie) …
Most people put it on their pasta – which would be totally epic – but I had just grabbed some fresh beans and baby potatoes from the farmers market and it dawned on me how amazing it would be to douse this luxurious sauce all over them!
But, when push comes to shove, a good schmear on some crusty baguette slices will do just fine!!
You guys know you want to try this!! The tomatoes and basil are calling your name!!!!!
What’s the Story Behind this Post?
Most importantly, if you’re wondering why I decided to make this, it’s because I”M GOING TO SICILY!!
You guys!! I’m so excited!!
Stay tuned for more on this and what we’ll be doing while where there!! You guys will be right there beside me!!
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 clove garlic peeled and halved
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes halved
- 2 anchovy fillets (or sub in 1 tsp kosher salt)
- 1 teaspoon chopped hot peppers in oil (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese
- In a skillet over high heat, toast your almonds until fragrant/browned (be careful to watch them closely…they burn quickly)
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds and garlic together until combined and finely chopped. Add the basil, tomatoes, anchovies and hot pepper and pulse again to combine.
- While the food processor is running, add the oil in a thin stream until combined. Remove the sauce to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
- Place in a sealable container and keep in the fridge for a month (can also be frozen)