Fennel and Leeks

Fennel and Leeks

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spaghettini con Pesto Trapanese

One of my husband's favorite foods is homemade pesto. When I stumbled across this recipe, I knew it was a risk to deviate from my standard pesto recipe, which calls for pine nuts, but I decided to give it a try. The final result went over like gangbusters. I was aware that nuts other than pine nuts can be used to make pesto but I was skeptical. After preparing and eating this recipe, I can tell you that almonds are fabulous in pesto! They provide a nuttier, more toothsome experience than pine nuts. I chose to use roasted almonds, as opposed to raw for this recipe.

The other difference between this pesto and my signature pesto, is the inclusion of diced tomatoes. I was certain I would enjoy the addition of tomatoes because they are one of my favorite foods, but I wasn't sure what Brad would think. The tomatoes were actually a wonderful addition that everyone liked. They provided another layer of texture and a juiciness that is otherwise not usually found in pesto. Recipe follows.......

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
30 g (1 oz) shelled almonds, raw or roasted, coarsely chopped
85 g (3 1/2 oz) Parmesan or pecorino cheese, freshly grated or in small pieces
30-40 g (1- 1 1/2 oz) fresh basil leaves
125 ml (4 1/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
100 g (4 oz) fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g (14 oz) spaghettini, gemelli (pasta twists), casarecci, penne, or flat linguine
extra Parmesan for grating on top

If preparing by hand, finely chop all ingredients and mix together in a bowl. If using a food processor or blender, whizz garlic, then add almonds and cheese and process until almonds are chunky.

Remove to bowl and finely chop basil in processor or blender, then add olive oil and whizz together. Stir into nut and cheese mixture, then stir in tomatoes and taste for seasoning.

In large pan of rapidly boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the hot pasta with pesto, adding a few tablespoons of reserved water if desired. Offer extra Parmesan to grate on top.

Author's recommended variation: In the little Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, locally grown capers are tossed into the mix, giving a tangy, briny quality to the finished dish. These capers are terrific, preserved in salt rather than vinegar.

I used organic hothouse tomatoes, pre-peeled garlic, and organic basil, grown locally by a company called HerbCo out of Duvall, Washington. As a side note, I found it unnecessary to pre-chop the almonds since I was using my Oster food processor. Also, I had to pull out my kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients in ounces, since this recipe noted weight, instead of volume, to measure ingredients.

All in all, this was a great recipe that I will absolutely prepare again in the future. Chalk another one up for Marlena Spieler. Her recipes never disappoint. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:
"Pasta" by Marlena Spieler
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