PASTA WITH TOMATO AND ALMOND PESTO (Pesto Alla Trapanese)
INGREDIENTS
  • Servings: 4-6
  • 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 (hot peppers in vinegar), 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
DIRECTIONS
  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.
  5. MY VARIATION TO ABOVE RECIPE:
  6. 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 large onion, chopped
  8. 1 green pepper, chopped
  9. 1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  10. 1/2 to 3/4 pound grilled steak, chopped
  11. Saute onion, green pepper, and fresh mushrooms in olive oil until tender crisp. Remove from heat, stir in steak. Toss with cooked pasta. Add pesto and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Add pasta cooking water, if necessary.
RECIPE BACKSTORY
Do you want an easy, tasty side dish? This was perfect with leftover chicken and will definitely have a repeat performance in my home.