I love this recipe from Lidia Bastianich's TV program, Lidia's Italy. It is very similar to a dish my Nonna served when I was growing-up. Now, this Nonna enjoys feeding her family with this delicious, Sicilian dish!
ANNA'S SPAGHETTI AND PESTO TRAPANESE
Lidia Bastianich says: "The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean, and it is a cinch to make. It's important to make the pesto with the best ingredients, then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy."
3/4 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for cooking the pasta
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry.
Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food-processor bowl, followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine puree; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.
With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the puree into a thick pesto. Taste, and adjust seasoning. (If you're going to dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.)
To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl. Garnish with cheese.
Serves 4 to 6.
This Sicilian version of pesto is much lighter than the traditional basil/pine nut dish. It is quick and easy to make. You don't have to use spaghetti, you can substitute a different pasta. Also, in case you do not have fresh cherry tomatoes, you can try using canned tomatoes....just drain the liquid, but reserve it to add back if needed. I also reserve some of the cooked, pasta water, to add to the sauce, if I think it is not wet enough.
Maniare e gustare.