Busiate With Pesto Alla Trapanese: Is it a classic basil pesto? A salsa? A plane?! NO! It’s Pesto Alla Trapanese! Though tomatoes in pesto may sound crazy, Pesto Alla Trapanese is Sicily’s answer to Liguria’s more famous basil-rich pesto sauce. The two pestos have quite a lot in common, as both are full of fresh basil, nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. However, where Ligurian pesto uses pine nuts, Sicily’s one uses almonds, then also adds juicy tomatoes on top of that for a uniquely delicious pesto. It’s served with Handmade Busiate pasta that is perfect for catching all the little bits of pesto!
This dish is the result of cultural interaction between the Genoese and Sicilians during the time when sailors used to trade across the Mediterranean and made frequent stops in the port at Trapani. You can surely notice the Sicilian influence here where pesto is combined with tomatoes and almonds are used in place of pine nuts.
Busiate With Pesto Alla Trapanese
- 1 recipe Handmade Busiate
- 1 large tomato, cut into chunks
- 1 big bunch of fresh basil
- ¾ cup almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Red peppers flakes, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the Handmade Busiate and cook for 4 minutes, until al dente.
Meanwhile, blend the tomato, basil, almonds, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor or mortar and pestle, until roughly chopped. Stream in the olive oil while continuing to blend. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. Pour into a large bowl.
Drain the cooked pasta and add to the bowl of pesto. Toss with a pair of tongs, then serve immediately topped with more grated Parmesan cheese.
Busiate and Pesto alla Trapanese are a Sicilian match made in heaven. It makes sense, after all, both this pasta shape and this pasta condiment originate from the Trapani area of Sicily. Try it for yourself!
Pesto alla Trapanese with Busiate Pasta
- 1 bag of busiate (500g)
- 1/2 jar of Corbarino tomatoes
- 1 big bunch of fresh basil
- 100 gr of Sicilian peeled or unpeeled almonds
- 1 clove of garlic
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch of fine sea salt
- Chili peppers to taste
- 50 gr of freshly grated cheese (parmigiano or pecorino) optional
While the pasta is cooking, put all the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, in a food processor or a mortar.
Grind well, but not too much.
Add some almonds at the very end of grinding, to allow for bigger pieces. If needed, add a little pasta water (previously set aside).
Drain the pasta “al dente,” add the sauce to the pasta, mix well.
If you are using cheese, add the cheese and mix. Serve immediately.
Did you know?
Called in dialect pasta cull’àgghia, that is, with garlic, this is an inexpensive dish typical of Trapani cookery. It can be served with potatoes or fried eggplant, is particularly liked by vegetarians and is served all summer long. From mid-May to the end of June (tuna slaughtering time in this area), Pino Maggiore seasons the busiate (short twisted pasta) with a sauce of sautéed tuna, tomato and mint, sprinkling the dish with minced almonds.
Corkscrew Pasta with Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Busiate alla Siciliana)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3⁄4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1⁄2 cup packed basil
- 1⁄2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. golden raisins
- 2 tbsp. capers, drained
- 1⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 3 anchovy filets in oil, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups flour
- 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
Make the pesto: Place tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely chopped; pour tomatoes into a fine strainer and drain off excess juices. Process tomatoes along with almonds, basil, Parmesan, 5 tbsp oil, raisins, capers, chile flakes, anchovies, garlic, and pepperoncini in a food processor until finely ground. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until needed.
Make the pasta: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and 1 tsp salt; form a well in the centre. Pour remaining oil, eggs, and yolk, and 2 tbsp water in well, and using a fork, slowly stir until flour is incorporated and dough forms. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces; working with 1 piece at a time, roll into a 1⁄8″-thick rope and cut the rope into 2″ lengths. Place one end of each length on the end of a wooden skewer or pencil and roll on the work surface until the length wraps around the skewer and forms a corkscrew.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; working in batches, add pasta and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1⁄4 cup cooking water, and transfer pasta to a large bowl along with pesto; toss to combine, adding a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowls and serve with more Parmesan cheese.