Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto Trapanese

/

Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto Trapanese

The Italian city of Trapani, on Sicily’s westernmost tip, has an identity all of its own. That’s because geographically speaking it’s closer both in distance and topography to Tunis than Naples. In fact, it’s closer to several African ports than it is to any part of mainland Italy. It owes much of its heritage to the sea and its importance to the ancient trade routes. Trapani flourished as the center of Phoenician trading because it was a navigationally necessary port during the middle ages. These facts helped Sicily’s foods to develop separately and distinctly from the rest of Italy. It’s hot, dry, predominately flat landscape seems more reminiscent of North Africa than most parts of Italy and is another determinate factor in its culinary past.

Almonds are a rather frequent visitor to the cooking of Trapani (and Sicily in general). They grow all over the place. It’s not unusual to see almond trees growing in the wild right alongside other trees, like date and citrus. All of which found their way to Sicily on ancient trading ships and have established themselves quite nicely.

My favorite of the almond-centric recipes is the Trapanese version of pesto. I am sure the Genovese might argue with the term pesto, as this sauce is not green at all. It’s a rustic mix of chopped almonds and fresh, cherry tomatoes. There is often a bit of heat to the recipe in the form of red-pepper. Like the more traditional green pesto sauce, this version is either painstakingly pounded together in a mortar and pestle, or hastily whirled in a food processor before being tossed with good local pasta.

Trenette is the typical pasta for Pesto Trapanese. It’s a fat hand-rolled, square spaghetti. It’s almost impossible to find outside of Sicily so I typically choose bucatini when I’m in the mood for Pesto Trapanese.

Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto Trapanese and Fresh Cherry Tomatoes

Notice I said typically. Recently I got to thinking about this Pesto Trapanese as a sauce that could move beyond pasta. After all, green pesto sauces show up all the time without a noodle near.  This time, I’m serving my Pesto Trapanese tossed with roasted asparagus. GREG

Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto Trapanese

Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto and Fresh Cherry Tomatoes

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Published
Roasted Asparagus with Tomato-Almond Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounce lightly toasted almonds
  • 1 pint halved cherry and/or grape tomatoes (about 25 to 30 dependeing on size)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup (plus 1 tablespoons) olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper (as needed for seasonong)
  • 2 pound medium asparagus
  • shaved Parmesan cheese (as needed for garnish, optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the tomato-almond pesto: Put the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse 15 or 20 times until roughly chopped. Add half of the halved tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped anchovies, and red pepper flakes. Pulse the machine 8 or 10 more times. Then, with the machine running, use the feed tube to slowly add up to ¼ cup olive oil in a slow steady stream. The resulting pesto should be grainy but not too chunky, and wet enough to easily fall off of a spoon. You may not need all the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Scrape the tomato-almond pesto into a large bowl; set aside.

Trim the ends off the asparagus then cut each spear into thirds or quarters. Place the cut asparagus onto a large rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet in as close to a single layer as possible; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Roast in the heated oven about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and toss the asparagus spears to ensure even cooking. Return to oven and roast an additional 5 to 7 minutes until tender and just beginning to brown.

While still warm, move the roasted asparagus and any accumulated liquid to the large bowl with the tomato-almond pesto. Toss to combine. You might need to add a teaspoon of water to get the mixture moving and the asparagus well-coated. Let the mixture cool somewhat, then toss in the remaining tomato halves. Pile the asparagus and tomatoes onto a serving platter. Pass the shaved Parmesan cheese at the table as an optional garnish.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save