Why Sicilian Pesto?
I remember when Pesto alla Genovese, known more commonly as Pesto, came rapidly into fashion. While Italians, especially from Liguria, have dined on pesto as long as they can remember and think of it as common as olive oil, the rest of the world, or at least Australia took a while to catch up.
It was the early 90’s when pesto took off in a big way. It was the latest gourmet food trend. There were hot pastas with pesto, cold pesto pasta salads with added three-bean mix, creamy pesto pastas and minestrone became sophisticated with a teaspoon of pesto added just before serving.
Pesto however, is not in fact the name of the delicious basil and garlic sauce but rather a process of making it others like it. Coming from the word pestare which means ‘to stomp on’ (or to crush) it is a verb that describes the traditional method in which to make both Pesto alla Genovese the fragrant green basil, garlic and pine nut sauce and Pesto alla Siciliana a sauce with ripe tomatoes, almonds, basil, parsley and mint.
It is delicious and light, while rich and herbaceous - and for now I am happy that it has not become as popular as Pesto alla Genovese because it makes it more of a specialty when I make it.
4 large ripe tomatoes
100g blanched almondsgt
2 garlic cloves
Leaves from 1 large bunch of basil
Leaves from 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley
Leaves from 1/4 bunch mint
3/4 cup olive oil
50g Parmesan, finely grated
Score a cross in the base of each tomato then blanch in boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove and run under cold water.
Peel away the skin, quarter and remove the seeds.
In a food processor place the almonds and garlic. Process to a fine paste with a little olive oil.
Add the herbs and continue to process with a little more oil.
Add the tomatoes and the rest of the oil and process to desired consistency. Season with salt and Parmesan.
This pesto makes enough for 500g of cooked pasta to serve 4-6.
The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.