Sunday, January 2, 2011

pesto alla trapanese

this is my latest fave dish from my very FAVE show, america's test kitchen.  yes, i am a nerd. 

i was intrigued by the alternative to the usual type of pesto.  in trapani, italy, this is a peasant meal, so it's very inexpensive to make.  the sauce barely covers the pasta, which is typical in italy...not so much in the good 'ol USA.


Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto (Pesto Alla Trapanese)

Serves 4 to 6

A half teaspoon of red wine vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes can be substituted for the pepperoncini. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender may be substituted. In step 2, pulse ingredients until roughly chopped, then proceed with the recipe, reducing processing times by half.


1/4 cup slivered almonds

12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

1 small pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) (see note)

Table salt

Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving


1. Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.

2. Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes (if using) in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.

3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

4. Add pesto and ½ cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

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