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Pesto Mafioso from Sicily

A few days ago when I posted the Scarlet Pesto with Piperies Florinis I was planning to call it Red Pesto and google searching to see if there were other pestos with similar names I found this pesto and knew from that moment that it was something I wanted to try.

Pesto alla  Trapanese or Pesto alla Siciliana, sometimes  also called pesto rosso (red pesto),  is a sauce from  Trapano, a town in Sicily, “alla”  meaning from that area.  It differs to the usual pesto we all know because they use fresh tomatoes, almonds and olive oil, which are regional products of that area. There was a recipe for 4 persons in that link which suggested to use 6 ripe tomatoes, 50 grams almonds, 15 – 20 basil leaves, 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  It also mentioned that you can add garlic add some pecorino in the pasta but I preferred to keep it vegan.  I made less than the amount mentioned, as I had some leftover pasta, which was only enough for two persons.  I added 2 of the tomatoes you see in the picture (I don’t know what they are called), which are not very big and 2 cherry tomatoes as well, I used salted almonds, as I did not have regular ones, more basil and I used only 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pesto because in order to store the pasta in the refrigerator I drizzled some olive oil to the pasta so that they do not stick to each other and since tomatoes are juicy there is no problem pulsing them with less oil.

Although in the recipe they make it the traditional way, using a mortar and pestle to make the pesto, I made it using my food processor.  However, be careful not to pulse it too much and make it into a cream as it must have some small pieces of all the ingredients in it.

I mixed the sauce in the pasta as it was cold from the refrigerator and the dish was delicious, light and refreshing.

Pesto alla trapanese,adapted from Wikipedia

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2


  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, whole
  • about  30 basil leaves
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves
  • A handful of salted and roasted almonds (about 20)
  • 1 tablesoon olive oil (you may add 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine all the ingredients  in a food processor and process until the sauce is lightly emulsified but still quite coarse and almost chunky.


Serve over pasta.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!!

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7 Responses

  1. Yummy! That pesto looks so flavorful and summery!


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  2. This pesto looks very colorful and fresh. Sicilian kitchen is full of colors and flavors.
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  3. Such a beatiful pesto, looks very catchy and fresh…love sicilian cuisine much..
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  4. This looks fantastic!

  5. Ivy, Yum yum yummmy! I love tomato pestos and love how you call this mafiosos 🙂 hehee I am going to make this once the tomatoes ripen in my garden.
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  6. Eva

    Never heard of this pesto before but sounds very refreshing and delicious.

  7. Ivy

    This pesto is another one to add to my list as we have a huge basil bush outside by the kitchen and you can only eat so much of the traditional green pesto! This sounds yummy, I love almonds! (noticed you did not peel them )

    Thanks for sharing this!