A Twist On Pesto — Made Without Basil

A different kind of pesto.

Nope, you won’t find basil in this pesto.

No pine nuts, either.

What you will get are vine-ripened tomatoes instead, along with almonds and fresh mint.

“Sicilian Pesto” is as easy to make as its Genovese cousin, but with a little somethin’ somethin’ to make your palate wake up and take notice.

The recipe is from the August 2012 issue of Cuisine at Home magazine.

You can make this in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Just throw all the ingredients in a food processor and let the machine do all the work.

The green is from mint and a few green tomatoes.

Be sure to save about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water after you mix the drained pasta with the pesto. Add a little of the cooking water to help the sauce cling to the noodles.

This version of pesto is a little more acidic tasting due to the tomatoes, which also lend a deep fruitiness. I used both green and red tomatoes, but you can use whatever tomatoes you like. The mint perks it all up.

To make this dish more substantial, I added two (6.7-ounce) jars of tuna, along with a little bit of that dazzlingly flavorful oil it’s packed in.

Dig a fork in and enjoy a taste of Sicily in the summertime — without leaving the continent.

A perfect weeknight dish that cooks up fast.

Sicilian Pesto

(Makes 4 servings, about 3 cups)

1 pound of your favorite pasta

4-5 yellow, red or green globe or Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup blanched almonds

3 tablespoons shredded pecorino

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 jars (6.7-ounces) tuna packed in oil, optional

Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.

Pulse tomatoes, mint, almonds, pecorino, oil, lemon juice, garlic and pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss pesto with cooked pasta. Flake in the tuna in oil, adding some of the oil, as well. Add a little of the reserved cooking water, as necessarily, to loosen up the sauce so it clings to the noodles.

Adapted from a recipe in the August 2012 Cuisine at Home magazine

More Pasta Recipes: Spaghettini with Tuna and V8 Sauce from Chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani

And: Chef Stephanie Izard’s Apple-Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

And: Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil from Cook’s Illustrated

And: My Husband’s Drunken Clam Linguini

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Date: Tuesday, 11. September 2012 5:26
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Fruit, General, Recipes (Savory)

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  1. 1

    Wonderful! This pesto must be very tasty.



  2. 2

    Pesto without basil – that’s interesting. A friend of mine introduced me to a pasta only with pesto and an olive oil – fast and delicious. Will be happy to try your recipe :)

  3. 3

    Leave it to the Sicilians to make their own pesto!

  4. 4

    Wow, the mint must make it very zippy. :)

  5. 5

    I like this pesto with mint…sounds and looks delicious Carolyn :)
    Hope you are having a fabulous week!

  6. danielle @ela_tarantella
    Wednesday, 12. September 2012 11:59

    Una bella pasta Siciliana! This recipe definitely calls for Sicily’s finest almonds: http://gustiamo.typepad.com/gustiblog/2012/08/caffesicilianyt.html

  7. 7

    I’ve read about this dish but have never made it or eaten it in a restaurant. It looks terrific! The mint garnish makes the photo. Good stuff – thanks.

  8. 8

    all that mint would make an extremely vibrant sauce! thanks for sharing such a unique recipe!

  9. 9

    Oh, now this is interesting. The tomatoes are a nice touch. Wonder if oil-packed sun dried tomatoes would work for this too. They have a nice sweetness to them.

  10. 10

    The Duo Dishes: Oil-packed tomatoes would work just fine. Though, you might need to loosen up the sauce a bit with more of the pasta cooking water since the dried tomatoes won’t have the juice of the fresh ones.

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