Not a single September passes in this house without making a big batch of pesto to freeze for the winter. After all, what else would I do with all my basil that’s quickly withering away with the cooler temps? Traditional Pesto Genovese, the one we’re all familiar with, is a specialty of Liguria, a coastal region in Northern Italy. And it just so happens that Chaser and I are headed there in a little over a week (which – GAAH!! – I’m completely freaking out about). BUT! I’m a Sicilian girl, and it just so happens that we have our own version of the stuff, too.
I learned how to make this Sicilian style pesto from the chef and owner of my favorite restaurant in Brigantine, Andre’s. Andre grew up in Sicily, and whenever we visit his restaurant, he always stops by our table (ok, lets be real, the bar) with plates of his Sicilian specialties for us to sample. The first time I tried his tangy, super garlicky pesto, tossed with perfectly al dente pasta, I fell madly in love.
Maybe it’s because of my Sicilian blood. Maybe it’s just because it’s really, really good. You decide! Watch the video above to see how it’s made.
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh blanched or skinned almonds*
- 2 cups fresh basil, leaves only
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for floating
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- Place the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl of a food processor, and process for about 30 seconds, until it's finely chopped. Add in the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add in the cheese, and continue pulsing until it's fully incorporated. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. The finished pesto should have some texture to it, and not be too smooth.
- Pour the pesto into a jar or container, leaving an inch of room at the top. Drizzle olive oil over to cover. This will help preserve the pesto's flavor and color. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- *Blanched or skinned almonds are typically bought slivered or sliced. These are what you want. The almonds should not be toasted, however if they are not fresh (meaning they are a little soft or lacking crunch), they should be toasted in a low oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up. Do not let them turn golden in color.