Among our dwindling freezer stores are jars of roasted cherry tomatoes saved just for this moment in time. We’re still between seasons as far as growing goes, and remain dependent on stocks of food put up the previous year. While this recipe for Spaghetti al Pesto Trapanese calls for ripe tomatoes, substituting a jar or two of roasted cherry tomatoes, now defrosted, satisfies our cravings for something fresh and bright. Timed to coincide with the basil now getting established in the garden, a couple of just-plucked leaves coax the tomatoes into showing off their juicy best.
Do remember to try this recipe again once we’re in the heat of summer, and the tomatoes are in their abundant glory. Simply pile the ingredients in a blender or food processor, where a few turns will reduce it all into an uncooked sauce, and toss with some just-cooked spaghetti. Consider dinner made, relax and toast the day as the light fades into evening.
This is a reprise of this recipe, requested by many at last Sunday’s potluck dinner. When using frozen roasted cherry tomatoes, substitute a pint jar (a little less than 2 cups) of them in place of the fresh. Recipes for the other two pestos from the dinner are also available: Walnut Sage Pesto, Garlic Scape Pesto. As for the name, it refers to Trapani, a city in Sicily, a region also known for its almonds.
Spaghetti al Pesto Trapanese
¾ to 1 pound (about 2½ cups) ripe cherry tomatoes, rinsed and pat dry
12 large fresh basil leaves, rinsed and pat dry
1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled
⅓ cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup grated Parmesan
– Using a blender or food processor, add tomatoes, basil, garlic clove, almonds, chili flakes and salt. Blend for a minute or more, until finely pureed. Scrape down bowl and blend again if any large bits remain.
– With machine running, pour in olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying puree into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasonings. If using within a couple of hours, leave pesto at room temperature. Otherwise, pesto can be refrigerated 2 to 3 days; let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.
– Place pesto in serving bowl. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente or just done. Drain pasta and add to serving bowl containing pesto. Toss quickly to coat pasta with tomato pesto. Add grated parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately while still warm.
Recipe adapted from “Lidia’s Italy” by Lidia Bastianich.
Local ingredients: Cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic from the garden.