Pesto pasta is a very popular Italian dish that people rave about. What they might not know is that the typical green, pesto is actually pesto alla Genovese, meaning it’s a sauce that comes from the area near Genoa, Italy. This recipe for “red pesto” comes from much farther south: Sicily.
Sicilian cuisine is typically characterized by more spice than northern cuisine and this sauce is no exception. Made mostly of plum tomatoes, with a touch of basil, nuts and red pepper flakes, this sauce tastes delicious as an entree with pasta or as an aperitivo with some crusty bread. Switch gears a little with your pasta routine and try this sauce you’ll be raving about it long after you’ve cleaned your plates!
Sicilian Pesto Sauce
- 4 large plum tomatoes (or 1/2 can San Marzano’s whole tomatoes)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or peeled almonds
- 1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch the tomatoes for 30-45 seconds.
- Remove from water using a slotted spoon, peel, de-seed and chop tomatoes.
- Place nuts, garlic and red pepper in food processor and pulse into finely chopped.
- Add tomatoes, basil, cheese, salt and pepper, and pulse until you have a wet paste.
- Drizzle in olive oil until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve with freshly cooked pasta or with a loaf of crusty, Italian bread.
Recipe adapted from Wednesday Chef