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pesto alla Trapanese
pesto with almonds like they do in Trapani

serves 4


big handful of basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

1.5 oz (40 g) peeled almonds

sale grosso, big salt or coarse salt

4 mature tomatoes or the equivalent in cherry tomatoes

about 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 

3/4 lb of long pasta

If you want to remove the skins from the tomatoes you can pierce the skin with a knife and drop them into boiling water for a minute or until you can easily peel away the skins. Chop the tomatoes into pieces discarding the seeds.

Peel the cloves of garlic and chop each into 3 or 4 big pieces.

Roughly chop the almonds.

In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and basil with big salt. Add the almonds and reduce them to small pieces, it should be a  slightly coarse mixture.

Add the tomatoes and crush them into the garlic almond paste just enough to make a thick mixture that hangs together.

Stir in just enough olive oil to make a kind of sauce.

Boil the pasta (usually the long, twirly busiati) in salted water until it is al dente reserving some of the pasta cooking water.

Dress the pasta in a serving bowl tossing it with the pesto and adding some of the pasta cooking water to help the sauce coat the pasta.


Using the mortar and pestle brings out the essential oils of all the ingredients exalting the flavors and also making a creamy consistency. Although the effect is a bit different you could use a food processor or an immersion blender but be careful to not over process, the sauce should be a little bit chunky.

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