When I was in London over the summer, I picked up Rick Stein’s cookbook Long Weekends at a cookbook bookstore called Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. Yes, an entire bookshop dedicated to just cookbooks! Imagine walls covered in books stacked high from floor to ceiling and an open kitchen for testing out recipes so that they can recommend books honestly and personally. I swoon. It was heaven, indeed.
This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Long Weekends and I’m sharing it because it’s a keeper. It lived up to the expectations that my Dad had set after he came home raving about Rick Stein’s seafood dishes after staying at his Bed and Breakfast over the summer in Padstow. Trapanese Pesto is the Sicilian cousin of the classic basil pesto made with fresh cherry tomatoes and almonds and Rick Stein’s version is refreshing, effortless and tasty indeed. The best part is that while it shines a vibrant rich green on your dinner table, it really just involves you pressing your finger to start and stop the food processor. I know most good things take time, but I’m telling you, this one doesn’t one bit.
Trapanese Pesto Pasta
From Rick Stein’s Long Weekends
What you need:
75g / 2¾oz almonds in their skins
large handful basil (about 30g/1oz), torn (reserve a few leaves for decoration)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
300g / 10½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
50g/1¾oz pecorino cheese (or vegetarian hard cheese), grated, plus extra to serve
6 tbsp olive oil
8 turns black peppermill
½ tsp salt, plus extra for cooking
500g/1lb 2oz spaghetti, linguine or bucatini, to serve
What to do:
Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the almonds for a few minutes. Drain and set aside to cool, then pinch off the skins.
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Keep them moving to prevent burning; they should be a light golden colour.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the basil and garlic and pulse a couple of times. Tip into a bowl.
Mix in the tomatoes, pecorino and oil. Season with the salt and pepper.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it and stir the pesto through. Serve, garnished with basil, with plenty of grated pecorino cheese.