Claire's Palermo Pesto alla Trapanese

As made by Claire, in Sicily.

Makes 4 portions


50g almonds, shelled but skin on

A handful of fresh basil (you can use supermarket bought if you don’t have a Sicilian balcony to grow herbs on)

2 garlic cloves

6 tomatoes (as nice as you can get. You might be better off using high quality tinned if you’re not making this during tomato season in Italy.)

2 tbsp finely grated pecorino (or other strong hard cheese)

6 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil

Pasta, to serve


  1. Blanch the almonds: cover with boiling water for a few minutes to loosen their skins, then slip them off with your fingers when they are cool enough to handle. They should pop out easily once ready.

  2. Tip the blanched almonds into a blender or very clever hand chopper like Claire has and process until the size of grains of rice. Add in the garlic, basil and some coarse seasalt and blend until finely chopped.

  3. Peel, de-seed and chop the tomatoes in a medium dice. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes with the garlic, almond and basil mixture and add the oil and cheese. Combine well and season to taste - it shouldn’t need much salt.

  4. Cook pasta until al dente and drain, reserving a cup or so of pasta water. Combine the pasta and pesto, adding pasta water as needed to make the pesto cling. Serve with extra pecorino or your cheese of choice.