Dips, Sauces and Spreads, Gluten-free

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

Loreto June 14, 2017

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Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese), a delicious combination of fresh flavours and textures blended to form a wonderful pesto that will grace the presence of your pasta dishes, or pizza, and even extremely delicious on proteins as a finishing sauce or marinade.

Song of the day: “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but the content and opinions expressed are our own.]

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese), a rich tomatoey paste, with added texture from the almonds, and brightness given by the fresh basil, end result a rich, delicate, savoury pesto, that will sure elevate many a recipe with its intense flavour profile.



Here we are with part two of our four-part series on pesto. Today I am going to take you to Sicily, and more so to the province of Trapani. Sicilian Tomato Pesto, or as it is also called, Pesto Trapanese, got its origins from the Genovesian sailors coming from the east to the port of Trapani sharing the pesto known as agliata, a combination of garlic and walnuts. The sailors of Trapani inspired by this new find thought to make one of their own using typical ingredients found in their region, two notably of which were tomatoes, and almonds, and Pesto alla Siciliana came to be. Here is a delicious inspired  Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese).

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

This has been a lot of fun developing recipes for The Italian Centre Shop. I just love going into the store and shop or just sit and people watch as their eyes light up or slightly close as they are tasting wonderful things at the deli counter. The shopping list for this pesto is quite easy. The main ingredients some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes, a close second with the almonds cleaned and peeled, which I have to say you can find in their packaged nut isle.  The supporting roles go to some good quality extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a nice handful of fresh colourful basil, salt, pepper, and for a little kick in flavour, some freshly grated Pecorino Romano, all you can find at the Italian Centre Shop. That’s it, now you are ready to make some Sicilian Pesto!

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese), step one: blanching cherry tomatoes!

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

To get this pesto flavourful and smooth we blanch the cherry tomatoes in warm simmering water. Before you put these into the pot it is very important to score the bottom in a cross-like fashion. This will make it easier to peel the skin off after. A thing to look for as they are simmering in the boiling water is the skin of the tomato. You will see the score marks start to curl and the skin starts to wrinkle a bit. This tells you they are ready to come out and into a bowl to cool for a bit. You don’t want to burn your hands. You may be asking why do this? could you not put the tomato into the processor whole, skin and all, and by all means you could but you would not achieve that smoothness and sweetness that you want in this pesto. The skin has a bit of bitterness and acidity to it and this will taint the pesto. Another key step in the tomato process is to squeeze the seeds out, again this will ensure a nice texture and flavour.

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

Once the tomatoes are peeled and seeded into a food processor they go with all the other ingredients except the olive oil. One thing that will stick in your mind with all pesto is that the oil comes in last, slow and low until you see that pesto gets creamy and shimmery. Something else to remember is when seasoning, do a little at a time as the pecorino is quite salty. Remember it is always easy to add then take out.

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

This pesto is amazing, the flavour so rich in a sweet and savoury duo. You taste the deliciousness of that perfectly stewed tomato with its sugars tantalizing the almonds that add such a wonderful texture and nuttiness to the mix. The pecorino with the pungent nature that we Italians know so well lingers on the tongue creating a dance of aliveness in your mouth together with that oh so familiar taste of garlic, and with the basil delivering so much freshness. The olive oil is just the perfect emulsifier to keep this pesto creamy and shiny.

A good thing to remember about any pesto for that matter is that if you are not freezing it or if you have some leftover in the fridge, just top it with the olive oil. This will keep it for a bit and preserve its flavour. This pesto can be used in a variety of pasta dishes, like spaghetti with pesto Trapanese, or penne alla siciliana. Another great way to use this pesto is to marinate a favourite fish or chicken. Let it marinade over night and I guarantee it will be so delicious you will not want to waste any of the sauce. Imagine a panino smothered in this pesto with some fresh arugula, mortadella, and fresh mozzarella, or in a vegetarian version with some tomatoes and grilled vegetables.

So you see, it is not only for pasta but has so many uses that make it a very versatile recipe for any one of the creative ideas you may have. Next time you are stuck on what to make for dinner, whip up a wonderful Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese) and let your creative energies flow to create something special for your family or friends!


Song of the day: “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

Sicilian Tomato Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 2 small food containers 1x


  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 50 g skinless almonds
  • 50 g (6 Tbsp) Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 1 bunch (about 15 g) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and deveined
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • about 50 ml (6 Tsp) e.v.o. oil + more for topping


  1. Gently wash and dry basil leaves.
  2. Wash cherry tomatoes and score the bottom in an “x” pattern.
  3. Place them into a saucepan filled with simmering hot water and blanch for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Drain and let cool a bit, then peel and squeeze the water and the seeds out.
  5. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, leaving the olive oil out.
  6. Pulse 4-5 times, then start slowly pouring in the olive oil as you pulse until mixture becomes smooth and well incorporated. You may have to use the spatula to clean off the sides of the processor bringing the mixture back into the middle. This is done with the machine turned off. You may not need all the olive oil, or you may need more, it depends on how thick or thin you like your sauce to be. You can always add more oil when you are going to use your pesto.
  7. Scoop mixture out of food processor bowl and into 2 small plastic food storage containers or mason jar (see Notes).


If you’re not freezing your pesto, you can put it into a small mason jar, but remember to top the pesto with olive oil which will preserve it in the fridge for about 5-6 days. If storing in the freezer, use the small plastic containers and do not top the pesto with olive oil. The pesto will keep for a couple of months.

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[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but the content and opinions expressed are our own.]

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  • Avatar
    Reply Tiffany June 14, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Quick question: Do you mean 8 tablespoons of EVOO or 8 teaspoons? Eight tablespoons is about half a cup which is more than 50 mL but 8 teaspoons is a little less than 1/4 cup and closer to 50 mL, though less than.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 14, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Hi Tiffany
      It would be closer to 8 teaspoons. I would use a basis of 50 ml and as we said, when you are pouriing the olive oil in slowly at the end, check to see the consistency. If you like it a bit thicker lessen the olive oil, if you like it a bit thiner then add more olive oil, and remember to top the pesto if storing out of the freezer. I hope that answers your question, sorry for the confusion, its the italian eye method, lol.
      Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Reply The Hungry Mum June 14, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    what a great addition to a dips and cheese platter, Looks full of flavour.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 15, 2017 at 4:55 am

      I never thought to use it as a dip but yes on all counts, what a great idea!.
      Thank you for commenting.

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn - Girl Heart Food June 15, 2017 at 6:01 am

    I’ve never had this variation of pesto before, but it sounds so so good!! And I pretty much love every pesto that I’ve ever tried. Pinning this beauty!

    Great tip with the olive oil on top….never heard that before so definitely will try next time I have leftover pesto.

    P.S. Love mortadella so that panini sounds pretty darn tempting 😉

    Have a fantastic weekend!!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 16, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Dawn, always a pleasure to read your heartfelt comments, there is nothing like fresh mortadella and fresh bread add in mozarella and this pesto and we are that much closer to heaven. I wonder why they never wrote mortadella in the stairway to heaven lyrics, best pit stop on the way I think, lol. Thank you for commenting and taking the time to experience our post.
      Have a most wonderous weekend.Cheers!

  • Avatar
    Reply Heather Johnson June 30, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I love this bright yellowish color – not what i would expect from a Tomato-based pesto! yum!

  • Avatar
    Reply Amy June 30, 2017 at 9:42 am

    This simple yet mouthwatering pesto is a must try!! I cam definitely use ut over somw pasta for lunch right now! Delicious!!!!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 30, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Classic thats the way to do it too. Pasta and pesto is a match made in heaven. I can eat that every day of the week, wait I can eat pasta any day of the week. Thanks a bunch for stopping by.
      Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Avatar
    Reply coquettekitchen June 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I love the tip about scoring the tomatoes before blanching. I forgot to do that once when I was canning tomatoes and what a mess! I am a huge fan of pesto ALL THE WAYS. This one looks so easy, I think I will make a batch with my husband this weekend. We love it as a spread on sandwiches!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Now your are talking our language. Putting this pesto on bread for sandwiches is brilliant, and the flavor it gives is tremedous. Now you have me craving a panino. We are using pesto in yet another interesting appetizer to come in the near future. Stay tuned. Thank you for commenting,
      Happy Pesto making!

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