Pesto Ericino – Pesto alla Trapanese

Pasta con pesto alla Trapanese – purdman1 CC BY 2.0

Trapani cuisine is the traditional gastronomy of Trapani and its province. Although it has much in common with Sicilian cuisine, it is affected, more than other areas of Sicily, by the greater number of “contaminations” of other cuisines and in particular the Arabic influence. And it assumes a fundamental difference in the massive use of fish instead of meat.

Pesto alla Trapanese is a traditional seasoning originating from Trapani, mainly used to season pasta. It is a raw sauce, pounded with a mortar, whose main ingredients are basil, tomato, almonds, pecorino cheese, and red garlic.

The pasta cu l’agghia (garlic in Sicilian) in fact is a typical dish of Trapani cuisine.
It is an ancient dish: in the port of Trapani stopped the Genoese ships[2], coming from the East, that brought the tradition of the Ligurian garlic and walnuts agliata, that was elaborated by the Trapani sailors with the products of their land, the tomato, and the almonds.
The pasta traditionally used are the busiate (or busiati), a fresh pasta, sort of macaroni twisted with a branch of buso, which is the stem of the disa[3], but also a thread of rush (in Sicilian iuncu) dried.
Another ancient pasta used is the gnoccoli, about 15 cm long and half wide, “hollowed” by hand with ten fingers. You can also use bucatini or linguine. Traditionally this dish is accompanied by eggplants or fried potatoes, but also fried fish (menola, retunno, cicerello).

This version of pesto comes from the Sicilian town of Erice, near Trapani, and is common in most of Western Sicily.

Ingredients

8 oz. basil
1 cup rosated almonds
3 cloves garlic
9 oz. tomatoes
toasted breadcrumbs
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt
pepper

How to make the Pesto from Erice:

In a mortar, pound the garlic with the basil and the almonds and a pinch of salt until you get a creamy texture. Pound the peeled tomato fillets as well. Blend the tomatoes into the pesto ericino sauce adding oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pesto ericino is used to dress different types of pasta, especially fresh hand-made pasta like orecchiette o cavatelli, as well as rigatoni and conchiglie.

Serves 4-6

Regional recipe from Sicily

Description in part thanks to Wikimedia.org