Recipe for pesto alla Trapanese: an old-fashioned pesto recipe from Sicily | Pasta

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

With an abundance of basil and mint growing in my garden, it has become a mild obsession to find new ways to use it. Pesto is a favorite of mine so when I found this interesting Sicilian pesto recipe I grabbed my kitchen scissors and went out 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 one
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 such as cooked chicken, shrimp or salmon and even add cooked mushrooms and aubergines for a firmer dish (as shown in the picture).


Cuisine: Italian (Sicilian)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • pinch 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, if needed)
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) pasta

This is how you make it:

  1. To in a mortar and pestle: Put the garlic and a pinch of salt in the mortar and pestle. Smash into a paste. Add the almonds and grind into a paste. Add the basil and mint, if using, and continue beating until you have small pieces. Add the cheese and pound. Add the tomatoes and olive oil. Crush until you have a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. To in a food processor: Pulse and garlic and almonds together until coarsely chopped. Add the basil and mint, cheese, tomatoes and olive oil if desired. Process the ingredients into a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place 2/3 of the sauce in a large serving bowl.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Use tongs to place the cooked pasta in the serving bowl. Stir together, add 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 now.)
  5. Before serving, spoon the reserved pesto over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheese.

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