Pesto alla Trapanese

Words Vicki Ravlich-Horan, Images Brydie Thompson

This traditional dish from the Trapani region in Sicily is one we learnt to make on our Taste of Sicily 2023 tour.  Taught in an old monastery in the stunning hill top town of Erice, we learnt not only how to make this dish, including hand rolling the pasta, we also discovered the history of the ingredients from some passionate locals intent on preserving their wonderful food culture.
Want to join me for 10 amazing days in Sicily?  Click here to find out more about our Taste of Sicily tour.

This recipe makes enough pesto for each person, so simply multiply for the number of people you want to serve.

The original dish is served with a hand rolled pasta typical of Trapani called Busiate.  This is hard to find in NZ so I suggest a fusilli or similar as it’s groves will catch the pesto well,

4-5 peeled blanched almonds
1 -2 cloves of garlic
Pinch sea salt
a handful of basil leaves
4-5 ripe cherry tomatoes
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a mortar and pestle*, pound the almonds, garlic and salt.

Add the basil leaves and continue to pounds.

Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the mortar and pestle and continue to pound.

Add the olive oil and mix together well to create a rustic pesto sauce consistency.

Stir the pesto through cooked pasta and serve.

The pesto also makes a beautiful topping on crostini or fresh bread!

*The pestles we used in Erice were higher than regular ones.  This helped reduce the splash back when pounding the pesto.  If you have a regular mortar and pestle I recommend wearing an apron and possibly draping a tea towel over your mortar to reduce the mess.

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