Pesto alla Siciliana (Sicilian Pesto)

I am of Italian descent, and I am ashamed to say I have never heard of Sicilian Pesto (can I blame this on the fact that my great-grandparents were from Naples?) until I flipped through a summer edition of Cuisine at Home. The basil pesto I know and love, Pesto alla Genovese, originates from the Liguria region of coastal northwestern Italy. Pesto alla Siciliana, on the other hand, hails from southern Italy and consists of tomatoes and mint instead of basil. Color me intrigued.

tomatoes, mint, garlic, lemon

summer yums

I embarked on this Italian kitchen adventure with my sidekick, Handy Dandy Food Processor, at my side (thanks again, Mom). Fresh tomatoes, mint, garlic and lemon tagged along as well.

seed tomatoes

No one wants a watery, soupy pesto, so the first step is to seed the Roma tomatoes. To seed a tomato, first cut it in half along the equator, then gently squeeze the seeds and jelly-like “insides” into a bowl. I found a knife helpful during this process. Easy as (pizza) pie.

tasty plate

I made a few modifications to the original Cuisine at Home recipe to accommodate my own preferences and tastes (I admit it, I’m a selfish cook). Instead of shredded pecorino, I used my cheese of choice, Locatelli Pecorino-Romano cheese. In place of blanched almonds, I used walnuts. I also increased the quantity of garlic and red pepper flakes because, well, I just can’t help myself. I’m Italian, after all.

The versatility of this pesto astounds me. I roasted shrimp and tossed the pesto with Gluten-Free linguine for a hearty, seafood dish. C spooned the pesto over his salad and used it as dip for sliced veggies. Instead of mayo or hummus, I may try topping a sandwich with this pesto. The options are really endless, but unfortunately, the bowl is not. Lesson learned: Double batch…at least.

Sicilian Pesto
*Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine

5 Roma tomatoes, seeded
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Locatelli Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Load ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Eat it hot, eat it cold!

shrimp pesto pasta

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