Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

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Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

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, more simply, Sicilian pesto!

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon
Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

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!

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, here is what you’ll need:

  • basil
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • almonds
  • olive oil
  • anchovies (or salt)
  • hot peppers (optional)
  • parmegiano

Easy peasy right??

It is super easy to make and delicious as a dip on your salumeria (sorta Italian for charcuterie) …

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

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!

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

But, when push comes to shove, a good schmear on some crusty baguette slices will do just fine!!

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

You guys know you want to try this!! The tomatoes and basil are calling your name!!!!!

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon
Dooooo iiiiittttt!!

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!!

Sicilian Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

Sicilian Pesto

I know many of you know about traditional pesto (alla genovese), but this Sicilian version will knock your socks off!!
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian


  • 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)