Pesto Alla Trapanese
This Sicilian-inspired pesto made from raw cherry tomatoes, almonds, and fresh herbs is so good we might even prefer it to the basil pine nut version. Make this in the summer when tomatoes are in season and super sweet.
¾ pound gemelli
¼ cup blanched whole almonds
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, preferably heirloom and halved if large
1 large clove garlic
2 cups roughly chopped mixed herbs, rinsed and patted dry, plus more for garnish (see cook’s note)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions.
2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the pesto: Toast the almonds in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure they do not burn, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, herbs, almonds, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the red pepper flakes and pulse gently until thoroughly combined. Pour the olive oil in a slow, steady stream into the food processor while pulsing so the mixture begins to emulsify. Continue until all of the oil has been combined and the sauce forms a smooth paste.
4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and fold in the Pecorino Romano. Season with additional salt and black pepper.
5. Add the pasta directly to the bowl with the pesto and toss until all of the strands are coated, adding ¼ cup of pasta water or more (up to 1 cup), as needed to loosen up the sauce.
6. Place in bowls and garnish with additional herbs.
COOK’S NOTE: “Nearly any mixed herbs will fit the bill for this recipe. I love using basil, mint, and parsley together, but sage, thyme, and/or rosemary would also be lovely.”
Reprinted from Back Pocket Pasta. Copyright © 2017 by Colu Henry. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Peden + Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.