Pesto alla Trapanese (Fresh Tomato Pesto)
A food processor makes this a super-quick meal, but don't let anyone from the city of Trapani see you using one: Locals insist with there is only one way to make this pesto and it is in a mortar and pestle. If you have time, do use a mortar and pestle and the pesto will have the best possible texture and flavor. This fresh tomato pesto should be made seasonally, only when tomatoes are "dead ripe" and juicy. Servings: 6-8 Serve with: Cooked buisiate, gemilli, or casarecce pasta.
1 ½ -2 lbs (680-907 g) tomatoes, very ripe and sweet (about 10 depending on size)
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp (3 g) coarse sea salt or kosher salt
½ tsp (3 g) freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh basil leaves, torn
½ cup (15 g) fresh mint leaves
½ cup (70 g) blanched whole almonds, toasted
¼ tsp (1.5 g) pepperoncino or to taste
½ cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½-1 cup (45-90 g) freshly grated Pecorino cheese or toasted bread crumbs
Rinse the tomatoes and cut a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Place them in a pot of boiling water for about 15-20 seconds, then transfer them to a colander and rinse with cool water. Peel off the skins, cut them in half, and scoop out the seeds with your finger. Dice the flesh, sprinkle with salt and place in a large bowl. Rinse the basil leaves and mint leaves and pat dry.
In a mortar, sprinkle the garlic, with a pinch of coarse sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Grind until garlic starts to break down. Add basil and mint leaves continuing to grind ingredients together. Add the almonds and continue grinding until fine and creamy (it will still be slightly grainy or chunky.) Add the tomatoes; depending on your preferences, squash them gently or leave them slightly chunky. Add the rest of the olive oil in a drizzle until well combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning, then add salt, pepper, and pepperoncini if necessary. Toss the pesto with the cooked pasta and serve with either toasted bread crumbs or grated Pecorino cheese.
If using a food processor: Drop the garlic into the food processor bowl with motor running. Followed by the almonds, basil and mint leaves, pepperoncino and ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Blend for a minute or so then add the tomatoes. With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the purée into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If you’re going to dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate if for longer storage, up to two days, but let it return to room temperature before tossing with pasta. Toss the pesto with the cooked pasta and serve with either toasted bread crumbs or grated Pecorino cheese.
This bright tasting red pesto deserves a wine that will pair well with its acidity. Serve this with a food friendly Sicilian red, we suggest a slightly chilled Perricone, also known as Pignatello.