Spaghetti with Pesto Trapanese

(serves 4-6 porzioni)

by Vanessa Gianfrancesco

Pesto Trapanesi, named after the Western Sicilian town of Trapani, is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle to combine raw tomatoes, garlic, almonds and basil that are then quickly tossed with hot pasta.

Ingredients / Ingredienti

  • 3 cups ripe cherry tomatoes / di pomodori ciliegini maturi
  • 2 cloves of garlic / spicchi d’aglio
  • 1 cup blanched almonds / mandorle pelate
  • ¾ cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated / pecorino romano, appena grattugiato
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves / foglie di basilico fresco
  • ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil / olio extravergine di oliva di buona qualità
  • Salt and pepper to taste / sale e pepe quanto basta
  • 500g of spaghetti of your choice / spaghetti di vostra scelta

Topping / Guarnizione

  • ¾ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs / pangrattato condito all’italiana
  • 2 tsp olive oil / cucchiaini di olio d’oliva
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano / di parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder / cucchiaino di polvere d’aglio
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped / cucchiai di prezzemolo, tritato finemente

Directions / Preparazione

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Strain the pasta and set aside.

Warm a skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil and breadcrumbs. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add in the Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic powder and parsley. Cook together until the breadcrumbs are crispy or about 5 minutes. Transfer into a bowl and reserve.

Using a food processor, mix together the cherry tomatoes, garlic, almonds, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil leaves. Then stream in the olive oil until all the ingredients are combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Toss the hot pasta with the pesto and add in some reserved cooking water to create a nice consistency. Plate the pasta and garnish with some of the crispy topping.