Soul of Sicily's Pesto Siciliano
This is the perfect summer recipe. Please use ripe, local tomatoes in season. Basil grown in your garden will make a big difference too. The most important advice I can give you to get this recipe "right" -- and really make it Sicilian -- is to use Sicilian almonds from Noto, Sicily. They are expensive, but if they are fresh they WILL make a difference in the flavor. Make sure you check the expiration date on the package and look for the date the almonds were packed too. I recommend buying whole almonds with skins on them. You can blanch the almonds for a few minutes to remove the skins for this recipe (see the how to blanch almonds note at the end of this recipe). Of course, using only the best, cold-pressed, organic Sicilian olive oil goes without saying!
1/3 cup of Noto Almonds (whole and without skins)
2 1/2 cups chopped Tomatoes (ripe and sweet)
1 plump clove of Garlic, crushed and peeled
Basil (handful of fresh, organic leaves)
1/2 t Sicilian Sea salt from Trapani
1/2 c. Extra Virgin SICILIAN Olive Oil
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place whole tomatoes in it and let soak until skins peel off easily. About 2 minutes. Put almonds in food processor or bowl and then top with basil leaves. Add tomatoes. Add a half of clove of garlic (chopped). Add olive oil. Then pulse in the food processor. Set aside.
To serve with pasta:
Place a few spoonfuls of the pesto in a dry cool frying pan. Cook 1 lb. pasta in abundant salted water until al dente, drain and reserve some cooking water. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan of pesto, ladle in a spoonful of pasta cooking water and gently fold while the pan is cooking on a very low flame.
Before serving, garnish with grated cheese and then garnish the plate with a tomatoes. Suggestions: Serve with home made pasta made from hard durum wheat flour, salt and water. Add peperoncino if you like. Serve in warm bowls.
TIP - How to blanch almonds:
1) Bring a small pot of water to a boil. 2) Place your raw almonds into the boiling water. 3) Drain the almonds, rinse them with cool water and blot dry. 4) Gently squeeze the almonds and remove the skins