Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto
When I traveled through southern Italy and Sicily this fall, I fell in love with the simple pasta dishes of the region. They take advantage of all of the spectacular local ingredients, and truly these foods are the foundation of what we think of when we refer to the Mediterranean Diet. This recipe is simple, but bursting with flavor. It’s not a basil-based pesto as you might be thinking, although there is some basil in the recipe. Rather, this pesto is made up largely of tomatoes – both fresh tomatoes that are roasted and sundried ones – and almonds, two ingredients that are plentiful in Sicily.Serve this dish on its own with a salad for a lighter vegetarian meal, or top it with a piece of grilled chicken or fish. You can also serve this pesto with cheese and crackers for an appetizer, or use it as a sandwich spread. The pesto freezes well, so you can easily double the recipe and freeze half for another use. I just ate this for lunch today, and I’m once again missing Sicily!
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, roasted until blistered
- 1 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1⁄2 cup packed basil
- 1⁄2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- ¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, plus more for serving
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Cook the spaghetti in heavily salted boiling water until just al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined. If not using immediately, refrigerate the pesto until needed.
- Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water, and toss the cooked pasta with the pesto, adding just enough pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a bit. Serve with extra grated Parmesan and chile flakes.