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Pesto Trapanesi - Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto

Diane SeedThis recipe comes from Diane Seed. Diane has lived in Rome for thirty years, and she has built up an international reputation for her unrivaled knowledge of Italian regional cuisine and wines. She runs her own cooking school with courses throughout the year in Rome, Campania (on the Amalfi coast) and Puglia (on the 'heel' of Italy).

Diane is the author of many cook books. Her first book, Top one Hundred Pasta Sauces, has sold well over a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. She now writes for various magazines, as well as traveling the world giving lectures, lessons and demonstrations, spreading the knowledge she has acquired over the years from farms, palazzi, markets, restaurants and family friends.

She is also the Italian food consultant for Marks and Spencer in the UK and now spends considerable time helping chefs and suppliers enlarge their repertoire with authentic regional dishes.

In Trapani, in Sicily, this dish is usually made with a flour-and-water, home-made pasta called busiati. I prefer to use a thin, short dry pasta like mezza zita tagliata or piccole penne. It is only prepared in the summer with ripe, red tomatoes. Traditionally mint is used, which gives an intriguing 'new' taste, but some families prefer basil.


500 g short, dry pasta
8 large red tomatoes
3 T blanched almonds
1 tea cup mint leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper


  • Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a few minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and peel off the skins, and cut into quarters.
  • Place the almonds in a food processor and chop roughly, then add the garlic, mint or basil and salt. Chop until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
  • Now pour in the oil, process, then add the tomatoes. It is important not to over-process. There should be a slightly gritty texture. This sauce can be prepared in advance.
  • When ready to eat bring a large pot of water to a brisk boil, add some coarse salt and throw in the pasta.
  • When it is still al dente drain and stir in enough pesto sauce to coat the pasta. There should not be extra sauce left in the bottom of the serving bowl.

Serves 6

Diane Seed