Pasta alla Trapanese by Michelle Schoenung
I know there are many different variations on “Trapanese” sauce – sometimes it’s more like an almond pesto with a few cherry tomatoes added in while this is a tomato-based sauce with a bit of basil thrown in – but this is one my in-laws learned on the island of Marettimo when they used to spend summer vacations there. It’s an original recipe, and reminds me of summer. Excuse the unappetizing photo. I’m no food photographer.
Ingredients for four people:
About 400 grams of pasta (I like casarecce siciliane, shells or penne for this recipe)
About 500 grams of cherry tomatoes (we make it very “sauce-y” but you could use less)
Peeled whole almonds (a large handful – about 25)
1-2 garlic cloves you can regulate it depending on your tastes.
A handful of basil leaves
Clean and pierce each of the cherry tomatoes and squeeze out the little seeds in the sink. Put the squeezed cherry tomatoes aside in a large bowl. In the meantime, using a hand mixer/processor, chop up the almonds and garlic cloves with about 1/2 cup of olive oil. You may need to add more oil. Don’t blend too much – it should be a very thick oil with plenty of chopped almond bits in it and NOT have the consistency of creamy peanut butter. Add the almond-garlic-oil mixture to the tomatoes. Here you’ve got two options. You can try to smash it all together by hand with something, such as a pestle, or you can take your hand mixer and quickly blend (maybe two or three short pulses) but making sure to maintain the form of most of the cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes should not be pulverized but should maintain a general smashed cherry-tomato shape. Cut up your basil leaves into small slivers and add the basil to the sauce. Add salt and more oil to taste. Cook your pasta in salted water. When it’s ready add the pasta to the sauce. The pasta and sauce mixture does not get heated up over the flame. The sauce goes on cold. It’s a somewhat lukewarm pasta dish nice for a spring or summer day. The sauce is even better if made a few hours before making the pasta and let sit.