Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spaghetti with pesto trapanese, a proper summer delight

 

Have you ever heard of the typical "pesto alla trapanese"? It's pesto Trapani style: fresh, light, tasty, ... I would call it a recipe with character, but also a proper Summer delight!

Pesto in Italian is a generic word that means smashed or crushed. Of course the most famous pesto is the basil one, originally from Genoa, Liguria, but in Sicily, in the province of Trapani they also do another kind of pesto, made of fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, almonds. In our language the verb pestare actually means crush, so the actual word pesto comes exactly from there

This cold sauce was introduced by the Genovese ships coming to Trapani from the Oriental countries during the 19th century.

It was originally made of garlic and walnuts, but local people re-elaborated the recipe with their own ingredients: tomatoes and almonds, basically the same thing they did with the cous cous which was made of vegs and meat in north Africa and they changed it with fish.


The typical pasta that accompanies this pesto are the rigorously handmade "busiati"(here on the right), but you can have it also with long-shaped pasta like spaghetti or linguine. (Here another recipe with the busiati)

Ingredients and Preparation for 4 people:

  • 6 fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 60 gr chopped or grounded almonds (already peeled)
  • a small bunch of fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Sicilian pecorino cheese
  • salt & pepper

In ancient times the garlic was crushed together with basil and salt in a kitchen mortar. The e.v.o was added little by little until you actually had the consistency of a proper creamy sauce. Then also the almonds were crushed and add to the mix and finally the tomatoes. 
For the tomatoes:
Prepare a bowl with hot water and leave the tomatoes there for few minutes. When they are soft remove the skin easily and the seeds, and chopped them thinly. If you prefer you can use the mortar for them as well. Aware of the fact that we live in 2016 and probably you don't use the mortar anymore, you can use a hand-blender but bear in mind that is not the exact same result.

Finally adjust with salt & pepper. Leave the sauce to rest while the pasta is cooking, then as soon as it's ready, drain it and in a large bowl mix it together with the pesto. 

Sprinkle with the spoons of grated cheese and you are ready to go. 

Prepare yourself for a fusion of Mediterranean flavors ready to explode in your mouth. Enjoy!

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