Pesto alla Trapanese Recipe: An Old-School Pesto Recipe From Sicily by Donna John

Pasta Dinner
2 years ago

Pesto alla Trapanese Recipe: An Old-School Pesto Recipe From Sicily

With an abundance of basil and mint growing in my yard, finding new ways to use it has become a slight obsession. Pesto is a favorite of mine, so when I found this interesting Sicilian pesto recipe I grabbed my kitchen shears and headed outside to harvest some basil and mint.

Pesto alla trapanese is a pesto from Sicily made with almonds, garlic, basil, a little fresh mint, lots of olive oil and Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You can make this easy pesto recipe in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Mix it with your favorite pasta, grab a fork and enjoy.

Note: You can add a protein like cooked chicken, shrimp or salmon and even add cooked mushrooms and eggplant for a heartier dish (as shown in picture).

Cuisine: Italian (Sicilian)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds
  • 35 large basil leaves  
  • 2 - 4 mint leaves (optional)
  • 3 1/2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano (a combination of the two works well)
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more, as needed)
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) pasta

Here's how to make it: 

  1. To make in a mortar and pestle: Put the garlic and a pinch of salt into the mortar and pestle. Smash to form a paste. Add the almonds and continue to crush into a paste. Add the basil and mint, if using, and continue pounding until you have small bits. Add the cheese and pound. Add the tomatoes and olive oil. Crush until you have a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  2. To make in a food processor: Pulse and garlic and almonds together until rough chopped. Add the basil and mint, if using, cheese, tomatoes and olive oil. Process the ingredients to form a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Put 2/3 of the sauce into a large serving bowl.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. With tongs, put the cooked pasta into the serving bowl. Toss together, adding some olive oil and pasta water (a little at a time) until a creamy sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. (If adding a cooked protein or vegetable, stir in now.)
  5. To serve, spoon the reserved pesto over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheese. 

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Kitchen Shears $10 & Up
Food Processors $30 & Up
Kosher Salt $2 & Up
Olive Oil $4 & Up
Pasta $1 & Up

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Ann Marie Patitucci
You had me at pesto! Thanks for sharing, Donna John !
Elisa Schmitz
I'm with you. There's not many pesto recipes I don't love, and this one looks delish!
Pasta with basil is never a bad idea. 😋

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