Summer in Italian cooking calls for lighter dishes, but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on taste.
Everyone recognizes the original basil pesto recipe from Genova, which is classic and delicious. This month, however, I wanted to travel south to Sicily to make a Sicilian Pesto that has all of the colors and flavors of the sun-drenched island: tomatoes that have been lovingly dried in the sun, fresh basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, a touch of creaminess with some ricotta, and the salty bite of Parmigiano-Reggiano. I mixed it with Trofie pasta from Liguria, which is a short, thin, twisted pasta, to blend the north and south of Italy in one delicious dish.
Since the topping is raw, it is quick to prepare, and is perfect served warm or cold. Take it to the beach and serve it at room temperature! You can use any shape of pasta that you like, but make sure you add this flavorful pesto to your summer recipe repertoire and savor all the tastes of Italy in one dish.
Trofie with Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto
Serve with Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana
1 pound trofie pasta
1 8 oz. jar Italian sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained
2 tablespoons fresh ricotta
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a food processor add the drained sun-dried tomatoes and basil and pulse 4 or 5 times. Add the garlic, ricotta, pinenuts, salt and pepper and pulse 3 more times. Add the olive oil and run the food processor on high until you get a creamy texture. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, reserving 2 tablespoons for topping, and pulse 2 times to incorporate. Set aside.
In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, add the trofie and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente, drain, transfer to a large bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
Add the pesto mixture and 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano, toss to coat all of the pasta.
Serve this versatile dish warm, room temperature or cold.
Influenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.