Sicilian Tomato Pesto Sauce
A classic, Italian, no cook sauce. Sicilian Tomato Pesto Sauce is delicious mixed with pasta, serve with meatballs or with simple crusty bread. Also called Pesto alla Trapanese, this lesser known sauce is tomato based with almonds and naturally sweet versus the basil pesto that we know so well.
Sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil garlic and almonds along with a little tang from Pecorino Romano makes for a well-balanced tomato sauce. If you’re not familiar with Pecorino Romano cheese, it looks like Parmesan, but it is a sheep’s milk cheese that has a stronger flavor which is perfect for grating into sauces and adding an extra flavor boost.
I have seen recipes that use ricotta instead of Pecorino Romano which results in a creamier sauce with a milder flavor and this is a delicious option if you don’t want to use Pecorino.
Seasonal cherry tomatoes are perfect for this Sicilian Tomato Pesto Sauce. I have also made it with tomatoes on the vine and Roma which are also delicious. Just make sure they are very ripe for maximum sweetness and flavor.
When it comes to the texture of the sauce, it can be blended to be slightly chunky (you will get little bits of the almonds) or smooth. I like it a little chunky.
In-keeping with the Sicilian theme, I also have a Sicilian Lentil Pasta that is a really comforting pasta dish and also Pistachio Pesto Pasta which is a pistachio nut-based pesto with parsley and pecorino.
I prefer to make this pesto a day ahead of when I’m going to use it because it tastes better the next day after the flavors have a chance to meld and develop. It can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze for 3 months.
If you can’t find slivered almonds, roasted, unsalted almonds will work fine. I don’t even peel them, and it comes out just fine. If you do want them peeled/blanched, I have an easy method for doing this > How To Peel/Blanch Almonds.
If you can’t find them already roasted, preheat oven to 350°F/180°C, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes for the slivered, 10-12 for whole. Slivered will roast up faster than whole almonds so keep an eye on them.
If you have made this Sicilian Tomato Pesto Sauce, please leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out.