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Sicilian Pesto

“Authenticity, for me, means knowing the history of our food culture, studying and understanding what was consumed once and what not, the origin of a recipe and its link with the times”

 Carlo Cracco

Not many dishes conquer the palates of our visitors like pasta, or rather, busiate with Sicilian pesto (influenced by the Genovesi but not to be confused with their pesto)! It has never happened that, after having tasted this dish, one of our guests hasn’t timidly asked for the recipe, which I have always happily revealed with all its secrets, as if I were giving out a piece of Sicily that one could enjoy and preserve anywhere in the world.

The first time I tasted this dish I was having dinner with friends in one the Aeolian islands with a unique charm, Filicudi, and I perfectly remember that explosion of flavors in my mouth, as if the richness of Sicily was perfectly concentrated in those notes of taste, fresh and decisive.

It is also a dish that I love to teach in my cooking classes and that never fails to surprise for its simplicity and goodness, gifting great satisfaction both to those who prepare it and to those who taste it, in short, a real guarantee of success!

Like many traditional recipes of this extraordinary land, this pesto has a history that speaks of a territory, that of Trapani, in whose port once the Genoese ships headed for the East stopped, pruning with it a typical Ligurian dish or the agliata which, as the name implies, is a garlic and nut-based dressing.

This pesto was then revisited and transformed by the Trapani sailors who added typical ingredients of their land such as almonds, tomatoes, Nubian red garlic, basil and, obviously, the whole grain salt which in those areas is of excellent quality. 

Pasta cu l’agghia (garlic in Sicilian) sees its maximum expression thanks to busiate, a type of long and twisted fresh pasta based only on water and durum wheat very common in the western part of Sicily.

So let’s see/taste what all this fuss is about.

INGREDIENTS

  • 320 gr di pasta (ideally busiate)
  • 500 g fresh tomatoes
  • 2 red garlic cloves 
  • 40 g of basil
    70 gr of peeled almonds
  • 50 g sicilian pecorino 
  • Evo olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper 

PREPARATION

  1. Blanch and peel the tomatoes and remove the seeds. 
  2. Toast the almonds in the oven for 15 min at 150 degrees (302 F) and let them cool. 
  3. Make the pesto by blending all the ingredients except the basil. Add a little water if necessary. 
  4. Once the cream is obtained, add the basil and blend again to mix it well. 
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water. Drain it keeping a little cooking water. 
  6. Season with the pesto and serve. 
  7. Finish by decorating the dish with the emulsion obtained by blending oil, basil and salt.

(Good news for those who are intolerant to dairy products: do not worry, the pasta is delicious even if you omit the pecorino!)