Pesto Trapanese

by Kristin on July 28, 2011

This is the fifth year we’ve had a vegetable garden at our house in the country, but I quickly learned the first year that basil doesn’t grow well (if at all) outdoors in Ireland. We have a small greenhouse this year, but all the space is taken up with tomatoes, Kirby cucumbers and peppers, so the basil plants had to make do with our kitchen windowsill, where they’re going gangbusters. I’d already made a few batches of regular pesto and was starting to get tired of it when I remembered bookmarking this recipe for pesto Trapanese last year, and it’s a new favorite, not to mention a nice change. Try it at least once this summer.


Pesto Trapanese
adapted from Catherine’s Italian Kitchen by Catherine Fulvio

Makes 2 cups (500 ml)

Use 1 cup (250 ml) of the pesto for dinner to serve 4 to 6 people and freeze the other half for another time. Alternatively, this will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to 1 week with a thin layer of olive oil poured on top of the pesto to prevent the basil from turning black.

1 lb (425 g) spaghetti, linguini, penne or your favorite pasta
1 cup (125 g) whole almonds
3 large ripe tomatoes, quartered, or 10 ripe cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 oz (50 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 large handfuls)
1/2 cup (125 ml) good-quality olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet.

To make the pesto, place the almonds in a food processor and whizz until they’re reduced to nibs (don’t overprocess them to a paste). Add in the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and whizz again until everything is well combined. Add more olive oil if you want the consistency of the pesto to be thinner. Stir 1 cup (250 ml) of the pesto into the drained pasta and serve right away.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily July 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Looks delicious! I can’t seem to keep basil alive in this country indoors or out! Seems a very fussy plant so this looks like a great recipe to use it up before I kill it! ha!

Sheila Kiely July 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Hi Kristin. Those basil leaves in the background, look plumped up and fragrant. Mine end up wilted and with black spots. Please tell us your secret for thriving basil. Is your windowsill brightly lit? And how much and how often do you water it? Sheila

Laura July 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I LOVE basil as well and planted it for the first time outdoors in a pot this year. Some mysterious nibbler dined on all the basil in just a few days and left the other fresh herbs alone. Would love to know how you got yours to thrive indoors!

Stef July 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Looks lovely, almonds are a great alternative to pine nuts in pesto. A good tip is that if you blanch basil in boiling water for 15 seconds and shock in iced water it won’t go black even in the fridge.

Aoife Mc August 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Yum! I’ve made a version of this which I like to call Trapattoni pesto :) It’s delicious and so quick. Will have to make it soon myself!

Kristin August 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

My husband is the one with the green thumb – he has taken over the garden and it’s doing much better than it did when I was looking after it! We have our basil on a south-facing windowsill, so it does get a lot of light. He said he gave it some seaweed fertilizer early on and waters it once every three days (but more often if the soil is really dried out). Last year our basil – on the same windowsill – got badly attacked by greenfly, but so far this year there’s no sign of them.

Stef, that’s a great tip about boiling and blanching the basil, I hadn’t heard it before but will try it next time I make a batch of pesto. Thanks for sharing!

Joey August 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

This is a fantastic, easy dish that my family enjoys. My husband and I just met Catherine this past summer at her Balleyknocken Farm in Ireland. She is a lovely woman, with a beautiful spirit. Her Farm has an herb garden, as well as a vegetable garden, and a separate kitchen where she conducts her cooking school. Thanks for bringing her recipes to the web! They are certainly worth sharing! Happy cooking, I am so glad to found your blog!

Kristin August 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Thanks so much for visiting the blog, Joey! Believe it or not, I was the editor for Catherine’s first cookbook as well as her forthcoming one, which is due out soon. She’s lovely and her recipes are so family friendly. You might also like her eggplant “meatballs” and oven-baked sausage and tomato recipes that I’ve blogged.

Nancy Cantwell October 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I am interested in recipe for eggplant meatballs Kristin mentioned, is there possiblity of getting recipe please? Thanks Nancy

Madison @ FatBurningFurnace February 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Looks awesome! Just found your recipe and have it bookmarked! Will be making it soon! We love pesto, but the ingredients in yours looks awesome. Looks like it would be perfect for lots of different pasta types. Thanks!

Kristin February 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do – I made it several times last summer, it makes for a nice change from the usual basil pesto.

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