If you think pesto is supposed to be green, think again. Sicilian Pesto (Pesto alla trapanese) is a fresh and lively sauce that will change the way you think about pesto.Jump to Recipe
Genovese pesto may be famous, but it's southern cousin from Sicily deserves more attention. Sicilian pesto combines fresh tomatoes, almonds, basil and mint. Mint is an interesting addition, and it sort of makes sense. Sicily has been influenced by Middle Eastern and North African cuisine for centuries and mint is a staple ingredient in Arab and North African dishes.
This is a wonderful summertime recipe that will help you put a dent into those cherry tomatoes your garden is pumping out on the regular! For more information on what you can do with all those cherry tomatoes, check out my blog post on 10 things to do with your cherry tomatoes.
This Sicilian pesto recipe comes together in no time and can be enjoyed with pasta, as a dip, or with toasted bread.
There isn't much information about this recipe from a historic sense. I have adapted a recipe from Marcella Hazan, famed Italian chef and cookbook author, to include ingredients from my garden.
For this recipe, you will need:
- Blanched almonds (slivered or whole)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pecorino romano and/or Parmigiano reggiano (you can use a 50/50 combination)
- Hot pepper or chili flakes (optional, but recommended)
Traditionally speaking, using a mortar and pestle is ideal, as it allows you to gently combine the ingredients and not bruise the herbs too much. However, unless you have the time, a food processor is probably more suitable.
You will also need storage containers like mason jars.
To your food processor, add almonds, garlic, cheese, extra virgin olive oil and chili if using. Pulse to break up the almonds and combine into a coarse mixture.
Add cherry tomatoes and herbs to your food processor and pulse until you achieve your desired consistency. A little chunky crunch from the almonds is definitely a good thing, but if you prefer a smooth sauce, process further.
If the pesto is too wet, add more almonds and process. If the sauce is too dry, add more tomatoes or olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Transfer your pesto to mason jars or glass jars and store in the refrigerator if not using right away.
Hot Tip: If you want to make this sauce extra special, you can blanch your tomatoes and peel them. Removing the peel produces a finer Sicilian pesto, but this is completely optional!
There are many ways to use this pesto alla trapanese:
- Pair it with linguine or your favorite pasta
- Use it as a spread on grilled bread, bruschetta style!
- Add it to your crudité board as a dip for vegetables
Make sure to check out our Sicilian Pesto Linguine recipe with fried capers and lemon.
If you don't have a certain ingredient, don't fret. This recipe is adaptable and can be modified to your taste:
- Use cashews or even pine nuts instead of the almonds
- If you don't have cherry tomatoes, you can use plum or roma tomatoes.
- We recommend a mix of basil and mint, but you can certainly play around with the ratio or use a single herb
- Veganize it by using a vegan parmesan substitute!
If you are not using the pesto right away, store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The acid in the tomatoes will help keep it fresh and lively. Do not freeze this pesto, as fresh tomatoes do not freeze/thaw well.
Easy and delicious Sicilian Pesto Recipe (Pesto alla trapanese)
- Food Processor
- ½ cup Blanched Almonds - Slivered or whole
- 1 Garlic Clove - Use more if you like
- ⅔ cup Pecorino romano and/or Parmigiano reggiano - 50/50 combination works well
- ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Pinch of chili flakes (or small fresh chili) - Optional
- ¼ cup Fresh Basil - Packed
- ¼ cup Fresh Mint - Packed
- 1 pint Cherry tomatoes - About 3 cups worth
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- To your food processor, add almonds, garlic, cheese, extra virgin olive oil and chili if using. Pulse to break up the almonds and combine into a coarse mixture.
- Add cherry tomatoes and herbs to your food processor and pulse until you achieve your desired consistency. A little chunky crunch from the almonds is definitely a good thing, but if you prefer a smooth sauce, process further. Taste adjust seasoning.
- If the pesto is too wet, add more almonds/cheese and process. If the sauce is too dry, add more tomatoes or olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Transfer your pesto to mason jars or glass jars and store in the refrigerator if not using right away.