The ZXD Recipe Collection

Pesto Alla Trapanese

My husband is allergic to pine nuts, so pesto genovese has never been an option. I discovered almond-based pesto alla trapanese years ago and make this lovely, summery option instead. We had the chance to go to Trapani in 2018 and learned some secrets to make it even more incredible. Buon appetito!


  • 1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup whole almonds
  • Handful of sun dried tomatoes, reconstituted
  • Several handfuls of fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt
  • Several handfuls of parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Sicilian, of course!)
  • Handful of breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 1 lb busiate pasta (or fusilli corti, anything twisty)
  • Ricotta (if you’re into it)


Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water next to your stove. Toss your almonds into the boiling water. Stir gently for several minutes and then use a slotted spoon to move almonds into the ice bath. Allow almonds to sit for a few minutes in the ice bath, scoop out, and de-skin almonds. Toast the skinned almonds for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat, flipping to toast evenly on both sides. Set aside.

Bring the pot of water back to boil and refresh your large bowl of ice water. Score the top of the tomatoes with an X. Blanch your tomatoes in batches and then gently place them into the ice bath to loosen skins. Remove skins and place all tomatoes into the blender/food processor.

Drain and add the sun dried tomatoes, basil, toasted almonds, and the salt-mashed garlic clove to the blender. Begin to blend, adding extra-virgin olive oil to help thin the pesto. Next add the Parmigiano and continue drizzling extra-virgin olive oil to blend until a smooth mixture forms. Add salt to taste.

Bring a fresh pot of water to boil. Sprinkle in a little coarse sea salt right as the water begins to boil and toss in the busiate. Cook to al dente and drain. Toss the pasta with the pesto and reheat as necessary. Serve topped with toasted bread crumbs and more parmigiano, and a little ricotta if you like it creamy!