By Analiese Paik
Thanks to the latest issue of Food & Wine magazine, I learned about a delicious tomato pesto made with perfectly ripe, farm fresh cherry tomatoes and almonds. Their recipe for Pesto Trapense (from Trapani, Sicily) calls for cooking the tomatoes, but I prefer Lidia Bastianich’s raw version where only the almonds are toasted. You’ll also need some basil, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, and your best extra virgin olive oil to make this quick pesto that’s light enough for saucing vegetables and fish (if you eat it), and of course pasta.
I’ve made it with fresh (the latest harvest) extra virgin olive oil from Olivette where the results have been heavenly and with grocery store olive oil where the outcome was very good. Grocery store olive oil is a gamble, so make sure it’s labeled with the harvest date and is no older than 12 months. Better California olive oils will have the date stamp and seal from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), but there’s still no guarantee they’ll be excellent oils. At Olivette, owner Alina Lawrence, aka The Palate, only sells ultra fresh extra virgin olive oils (no flaws by USDA grade standards) that you get to taste before you buy, and they make all the difference in your cooking and how much you enjoy it.
Head to a farmers’ market or farm stand to buy the tomatoes, basil and garlic, then get out your food processor. Here’s a link to Lidia’s recipe and another for Food & Wine’s if you want to cook the tomatoes. I don’t recommend freezing this sauce and actually urge you to make it right before you use it so it’s super fresh and the ingredient sing.