Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto)


Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian Pesto)

Typically upstaged by its famous cousin, Pesto alla Genovese, the classic version with basil, Sicilian pesto, originating from the Trapani region, just screams summer. It is made with fresh, juicy (garden) cherry tomatoes, basil and almonds (as opposed to pignoli nuts). It is fresh and lively and will change the way you think about pesto, especially with the interesting addition of fresh mint, which makes sense given Sicily’s history and cultural influences. This Trapanese pesto comes together in no time and can be enjoyed with pasta (typically Busiate), on crostini, or as a dip. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes


  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup of blanched and peeled almonds
  • 40 large basil leaves
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 2/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses (mixed half and half)
  • 1 pound of blanched and peeled cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound of pasta, preferably Busiate


  • If using a mortar and pestle: crush the garlic in a mortar with pinch of salt to form a paste. Add almonds and crush into a rough paste. Add the basil leaves and mint and crush them into small bits. Add in the tomatoes, then the cheese, followed by the olive oil. The final version should appear as a wet rough paste Season to taste with salt.
  • If using a food processor: pulse garlic with almonds until roughly chopped. Add the basil and mint, then cheese, tomatoes, and olive oil in process to a rough paste. Season to taste with salt.
  • Transfer 2/3 of the sauce to a large serving bowl. Do not heat the sauce.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss well, adding more extra-virgin, olive oil, and reserves pasta, water, a little bit at a time, until the creamy sauce emerges that’s dry, but not soupy. Season with salt to taste. If the sauce dries out, simply add more pasta water to loosen it.
  • Serve with remaining sauce, and extra freshly grated cheese and olive oil, as desired.
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