Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto alla Trapanese)

While eating Pasta with Pesto alla Trapanese you cannot help, but dream yourself away all the way to Italy, right to the town of Trapani. The fresh ingredients, the wonderful colors, and the incredible taste call for summer and vacations.

In contrast to the better known Pesto alla Genovese, Pesto alla Trapanese uses almonds in place of pine nuts. In addition, the amount of basil is less and fresh tomatoes are added. 

Traditionally, the pesto was made with mortar and pestle. Using a food processor will give you a slightly different texture. If you still want to taste small pieces of almonds, carefully pulse it until you have your desired texture. And in case you prefer your pesto rather smooth, you should get the desired consistency letting the food processor run for about one minute. 

The dish is prepared in a blink which will give you enough time to dream about that next vacation!

Fresh basil,  tomatoes, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Instead of using pepperoncini you can soak red pepper flakes in red wine vinegar.

Slivered, toasted almonds, olive oil, and garlic.

Add basil, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt to the food processor.

Process for about one minute or pulse instead, depending on the level of smoothness you prefer.
Then drizzle in the oil.

Combine Parmesan cheese, pesto, and the drained pasta.

Serve immediately.

Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto alla Trapanese)
Recipe originally published in: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

Serves 4 to 6.


1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown, cooled to room temperature

12 ounces cherry, grape, or small plum tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 small pepperoncini (hot peppers in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon), can be substituted by 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes soaked in red wine vinegar (1/2 teaspoon)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti, but can be substituted with any pasta shape if preferred

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving


pinch red pepper flakes, optional



Combine the almonds, garlic, pepperoncini (or soaked red pepper flakes), tomatoes, basil leaves, one teaspoon of salt, and additional red pepper flakes (optional) in the bowl of a food processor and process for about one minute, or until smooth.

Slowly drizzle in the oil while the food processor is still running.

Cook pasta until al dente. Keep about 1/2 cup of the water the pasta was cooking in. You can use it later to adjust the consistency of the dish to your taste. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot. 

Add the pesto  and 1/2 cup of Parmesan to the drained pasta, mix, and adjust with the reserved pasta water to preferred consistency. Serve immediately.

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