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Fusilli with Sicilian pesto sauce recipe

Fusilli with Sicilian pesto sauce recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Pesto

A version of pesto from Sicily that includes ricotta cheese and tomatoes besides the typical basil and pine nuts.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 450g fusilli pasta
  • 500g medium size tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 150g fresh ricotta
  • 75g pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 75g grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:15min ›Ready in:25min

  1. Boil 4 litres of water with a tablespoon of salt. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook till al dente.
  2. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes, basil, ricotta, pine nuts, garlic, oil and Parmesan cheese in a food processor or blender. Blend everything at low speed until you have a creamy mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drain the pasta and put it in a bowl. Pour in the sauce and mix well. Serve hot.

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A No-Cook Pasta Sauce Is a No-Brainer for an Easy Summer Dinner

Pasta never goes out of season, but with tomatoes at their peak, the dog days of summer are an ideal time to prepare a raw sauce from scratch. While the canned stuff is a-OK (particularly top quality San Marzanos), enjoying the fruit from your home garden or purchased from a local farmers’ market at its full fresh flavor potential can’t be beat.

Beyond the phenomenal taste, a sauce that uses tomatoes and other seasonal produce au natural has plenty of benefits.

Along with being less labor-intensive in both prep and clean-up, there are also health benefits that come with eating raw. You won’t lose any vitamins or nutrients, which can happen in the cooking process.

Proponents of eating raw commonly report improvement in the health of their skin, hair and energy levels. (While not scientifically proven, it’s definitely one of those may-help-won’t-hurt situations.)

Take advantage of a few of our favorite no-cook pasta sauces (though, yes, you will obviously have to cook the pasta).

Bialetti Pasta Pot with Strainer Lid, $34.99 on Amazon

No matter what kind of pasta you make, a pot with a built-in strainer makes draining it easy.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

When tomatoes are plentiful and at their juiciest, there’s no need to get fussy. Serve ‘em up fresh and enjoy their natural sweetness. Raw garlic adds bite, fresh oregano and parsley provide earthiness, but watch out ‘cuz here comes chèvre with that creaminess. Get our Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe .

Easy Basil Pesto

When you think of no-cook pasta sauce, pesto is likely the first that comes to mind. Not only is it simple to prepare (basil, salt, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil drizzle, pulse) and packed with flavor and fragrance, it’s also extremely versatile. Use it as a marinade. Spoon it as a condiment over grilled or roasted meats. Dress up your salad. Toss it with veggies both cooked and raw. And as an added bonus, it freezes extremely well so go ahead and whip up a large batch. Get our Easy Basil Pesto recipe .

Watercress-Walnut Pesto

Go a slightly less traditional route with your pesto and swap out basil for watercress and pricey pine nuts for walnuts. An addition of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a touch of balsamic offer a vibrant tang. The results will be just as delicious and a refreshing change of pace from the same-old, same-old. Get our Watercress-Walnut Pesto recipe .

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Sauce with Olives and Feta

Olives and feta cheese bring briny deliciousness to this tomato and basil-heavy sauce. As a bonus, it’s make-ahead-friendly. Let the ingredients blend for several hours to meld them together in delicious harmony. Get our Heirloom Tomato-Basil Sauce with Olives and Feta recipe .

Pistachio Sauce

This Sicilian-inspired sauce showcases the island’s signature nut in all its glory. While the pistachios are traditionally processed into a paste, with this simple recipe, the brainchild of The Franks behind New York’s Frankies Spnutino Group, you don’t have to go to all that trouble. Just chop them coarsely, season with garlic, parmesan, and mint leaves for a sauce that’s equal parts bright and fresh as it is savory and hearty. Get the Pistachio Sauce recipe .

Pasta al Forno History and Recipes

As anyone who visits Italy rapidly realizes, pasta may be the national dish, but it's not a monolith: In adapting it to suit local traditions and ingredients, Italian cooks have produced an infinite variety of forms and preparation methods. While many of these dishes are quickly made, there also special occasions that beg something more, and then the idea of combining cooked pasta and other ingredients to produce a casserole becomes quite obvious.

The best-known of these dishes is, of course, lasagna, which also serves to show how much-baked pasta varies from region to region: Tuscans and Emilia-Romagnans make it with béchamel sauce, sugo alla bolognese, and grated Parmigiano Ligurians make it with pesto sauce and serve up as a refreshing summer dish Calabrians (among others) use ricotta salata -- salted ricotta -- and Neapolitans make an extraordinarily sumptuous Carnival lasagna with ricotta and a variety of other ingredients.

Beyond lasagna, the variety becomes infinite almost any kind of pasta except thin-stranded spaghetti, which would overcook, can be used as a base for pasta al forno, baked pasta. Nor is the choice limited to plain pasta and sauce in many dishes, the pasta is baked in a pie crust (at which point the recipe is a pasticcio di. ). Perhaps the most extraordinarily rich of these dishes, true festival food that's perfect in the dead of winter, is the Emilian pasticcio di tortellini. But you needn't wait the winter months -- there's something for every season, and every sort of occasion too.

For an intense, dense cream, cut the pistachios very finely with a food processor until you get a paste. This paste cannot be used alone, but it is perfect to add some flavor to your dishes with rich and fragrant drops. In this version, pistachios are ideal combined with confit tomatoes.

No joke. If you're a real lover of all things pistachio like we are, you won't be able to resist the idea of eating them whole and crunchy with fresh pasta. Peel them, toast them with a pinch of salt in a pan and use them to make an unforgettable first course with fish -- or perhaps a simple white pasta seasoned with anchovy fillets and breadcrumbs will do. It’s up to you.

The Greatest Tomatoes from Europe

The art of perfection. Preserved for your table.

This last sentence is gold. This exemplifies what the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe is about: the best quality tomatoes for YOU to use in your kitchen, for YOUR family and friends. I don’t use anything but canned and jar tomatoes from Europe. Hopefully, over the course of the campaign, you’ll understand why I have chosen European tomatoes.

Photo courtesy Greatest Tomatoes from Europe

Besides being the tomatoes that my ancestors and family have always used, the nutrition and quality is excellent, not just the flavor. From the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe website–

Tomatoes are naturally low in sugars and fats but rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, minerals, fibres and antioxidants like lycopene, making them a concentrated burst of beneficial substances.”

However, certain tomatoes have more nutrients than others depending on the soil where they are grown. Did you know that?

Photo courtesy Greatest Tomatoes from Europe

ANICAV (as best as I can translate into English, the National Association of Industrial Preservation of Vegetable Products”) came into being on August 18th, 1945 to protect the interests and well being of companies that were producing vegetable products during wartime.

ANICAV was one of the first associations to draw up a handbook of good hygiene practices for the production of canned tomatoes, approved by the Italian Ministry of Health, to help tomato-processing companies in preparing their HACCP manuals.

Many times, canned tomatoes are better quality than using fresh when they are out of season. I can’t possibly outline all the information about European tomatoes in one post, so stay tuned for much more. I hope you’ll be interested in the history and background of these top notch tomatoes as well as discovering how they are grown, harvested and processed.

A few of the brands chosen to be in the Greatest Tomatoes From Europe Campaign are:

La Valle
La Doria (whole peeled tomatoes 3Kg branded Carmelina e’ San Marzano)

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe which I slightly adapted from The Greatest Tomatoes from Europe’s list of wonderful recipes. This fusilli with pumpkin and sausage dish is one you can make in just over half an hour and the whole family will love it–I did!

Busiate with Trapanese Pesto-Busiate con Pesto alla Trapanese

What do you do when you have an abundance of basil? Make pesto, of course! This is a pasta with Trapanese pesto. It’s not a typical pesto, but a Sicilian one from Trapani.

Whether you make this pesto in a food processor or with the traditional mortar and pestle, the goal is to make a thick, somewhat chunky emulsion. Refrigerate the pesto for longer storage, bringing it to room temperature prior to dressing the busiate.

This is gorgeous Giada! She’s very proud of the Sicilian part of her heritage and I’m so happy that she explores their recipes and shares them with the family.

Blanch tomatoes in small pot of boiling water. Peel them and chop into quarters. Remove the seeds and drain them while getting other ingredients together.

Fusilli al pesto di pistacchi (recipe)

If another island were worthy of the title &lsquothe Emerald Isle&rsquo it would be Sicily. Not because of its verdant vegetation but because of one of its typical products. The pistachio and in particular the pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP. To celebrate the Sicilian pistachio harvest, which takes place this month, why not prepare this truly mouth-watering dish?

Pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP

The name pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP (green pistachio) has been protected under EU law since 2009. To qualify, pistachios of the variety pistacia vera have to be grown within the boundaries of the Sicilian towns of Bronte, Adrano, or Biancavilla in volcanic soil between 400 and 900m above sea level. Once harvested, they have to be sold within two years.


The pistachio is a very ancient plant and appears to be a native of the Eastern Mediterranean / Middle East. According to Pliny the Elder it was introduced to Italy in 35AD and has been cultivated there ever since. The name derives from the Ancient Greek &pi&iota&sigma&tauά&kappa&iota&omicron&nu (pistakion). Today the two largest producers are Iran and the USA with Italian production paling in comparison. However the quality of the Italian product has led to it being very sought after and it sells for a high price. No wonder it&rsquos know as &lsquogreen gold&rsquo.

Pesto di pistacchi

In Sicily the pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP, known in Bronte dialect as scornabecco or spaccasassi, is made into a variety of sweet products from crema di pistacchio&mdasha kind of pistachio Nutella&mdashto marzipan and gelato. However, its also made into a pasta sauce, pesto di pistacchi. This is available ready made but it&rsquos also very easy to make at home, as we shall see. There are several ways of using it including my favourite with fusilli pasta and baby tomatoes (pomodorini).


The pistacchio verde di Bronte is very expensive, costing around &euro75 a kilo. However, the taste is worth the money. Cooking with them is very hard since there is a temptation to keep eating them as you go and you could easily end up with none.

Purple pistachios?

When shelled, it&rsquos hard to see where the pistacchio verde gets its name. They are not green at all, but have a deep purple tinge to them. However this is a skin which you should remove before using them.

The pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP before removing the skin.

Removing the skin

In order to remove the skin you should sit them in boiling water for five minutes. Then drain them and place them on a clean tea towel. Bring the corners of the tea towel together to make a pouch and then rub the part containing the pistachios between your hands for a minute or so. When you open the pouch the skin will have come off and you can pick out the now very green nuts. You will have to repeat this procedure a few times to get all the skins off.

Removing the pistachio skins using a clean tea towel.

Green pistachios!

When finished, you will be in no doubt as to where the name comes from. You will be left with a pile of emeralds, so bright that you might need sunglasses to look at them. The first time I did this I didn&rsquot want to cook with them. I just wanted to sit and look at them and marvel at their beauty. I wouldn&rsquot blame you if you wanted to do the same. Take your time. Enjoy the process. After all the pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP is affiliated to the Slow Food movement.

Now you can see why they are called pistacchi verdi (green pistachios).

Use a mixer

Pesto di pistacchi is made by simply mixing together all the ingredients and adjusting the consistency using extra virgin olive oil and water. Although this is traditionally done in a pestle and mortar there is no shame in using a mixer or food processor to get the job done. I use pine nuts to calm the flavour of the pistachios a little but some people use almonds or even walnuts. The lemon zest has the same affect and also adds freshness to the sauce. There is a small amount of garlic in this sauce but if you wish it could be left out. Substituting another cheese (pecorino for example) instead of the parmigiano reggiano would make this dish vegetarian.

Put all the ingredients into a mixer with extra virgin olive oil and water.

The finished pesto.

How to enjoy it

Although pesto di pistacchi can be enjoyed in a variety of ways&mdashon bruschetta or as a crust on meat or fish&mdashit&rsquos most often used as a pasta sauce. As I said, one of the most traditional ways of eating it is with fusilli pasta and baby tomatoes. The grooves on the fusilli suck the sauce into them meaning that each bite is packed with a pistachio punch. Although the pesto is delicious on its own (with the fragrance of lemon, another Sicilian product, adding a lightness to it) the combination of the salty pesto with the sweet and sour tomatoes is sublime. Try and spear a fusillo and a tomato with your fork and wait for the flavour explosion in your mouth. (There&rsquos nothing to stop you adding more tomatoes, maybe even as many as there are pieces of pasta.)

Buon appetito!

Only the best

This dish can be prepared with any pistachio but it just won&rsquot taste as good. If you are using the pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP make sure you use other high-end ingredients (I used De Cecco fusilli, parmigiano reggiano DOP, and datterini tomatoes from a farmer&rsquos market).

Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese

A recipe for Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese. This Sicilian pasta sauce highlights the best of summer with fresh basil, raw tomatoes, almonds, Pecorino, and olive oil.

Pesto alla Trapanese originated in Trapani region, where tomatoes and almonds are abundant, in western Sicily. Raw tomatoes, fresh basil, almonds, olive oil, and Pecorino cheese are processed or pounded into a textured sauce best served warm or cold.

This pesto sauce requires no cooking at all, so it easily comes together with the help of a food processor in the time it takes to boil the pasta! You can also make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Traditionally, Pesto alla Trapanese is paired with Busiate (Busiati) a long coiled durum wheat pasta similar in shape to a telephone cord. It is made by wrapping pieces of the soft dough around a thin rod (ferro). The coiled shape is especially perfect for trapping the delicious sauce in every bite.

I recently came across dried Busiate in World Market. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also make your own using this tutorial from Manu’s Menu. The sauce can also be paired with Casarecce, Cavatappi, Fusilli Bucati, or Spaghetti.

I made the sauce in a food processor for convenience. If using a mortar and pestle, halve the cherry tomatoes first to make them easier to crush. I added a mixture of cherry and grape tomatoes from my garden, but any assortment of ripe, less watery (cherry, grape, roma) tomatoes will do.

To make the Pasta con Pesto alla Trapanese vegan, use toasted breadcrumbs instead of cheese.

Braciole is a very lean cutlet of beef tenderized by many, many, maaaaaaany smashes from a heavy meat mallet. You can do this yourself, ask your butcher to do it for you, or keep an eye out for it pre-packed in the meat department. Just make sure it’s niiiiice and thin. That’s how it tastes like heaven!

Once you have your meat all set and ready, the real fun begins! It’s time for the FILLING! The filling is what really takes this meat from good to great. Different regions have slightly different fillings when it comes to this dish, but for this recipe I choose to stick with what I was raised on, and also what I just find to be the perfect fit. I will say though, some folks choose to add prosciutto to their braciole, and it is super delicious. But only with good prosciutto (the cheap kind is too salty and chewy and doesn’t do justice), which can be mega pricey, and thus, is kind of a turn off. Braciole is very moderately priced, and hearty, so that being said, feel free to add the prosciutto if you want a little salty kick and don’t mind spending a little extra on the meal. It’s going to be lovely either way.

The nonnegotiable fillings are sautéed onion, fresh parsley, fresh basil, lots of garlic, pine nuts, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. You need them all! And you’ll want them all, too. They add the dreamiest flavor and texture to these rolls, and skipping even just one of them throughs the recipe off a bit.

Once the meat has been covered with the stuffing, you’re going to roll the meat up SUPER tight. You want it solid as rock. Making sure it’s rolled as tightly as possible and secure is an important part. If you don’t roll it properly, you’ll lose all your precious fillings! So roll it right. Roll it right, roll it tight!

Now that they’re all rolled and ready, it’s time to go down to browning town. Browning is important for the flavor and texture of the braciole. You want high heat here because you don’t want to cook it! You just want to brown the meat on all sides – including the ends. Since the meat is thin, this will happen quickly.

Maccheroni con Pesto Trapanese

Cosa Serve(What is needed)

1-1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (ripe)

1 clove of garlic peeled, cut in half and inner green core removed.

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

1 pound of fusilli or bucatini

Cosa Fare(What to do)

Put the food processor bowl and its blade in the fridge (this will prevent the basil from becoming dark).

In a large pasta pot bring the water to boil. You will use the boiling water first to blanch the almond and the tomatoes, and then to cook the pasta.

Rinse the cherry tomatoes, cut in half and squeeze out the seeds.

Clean the basil with a damp kitchen towel.

When the water start boiling add the almonds and after 70 seconds add the tomatoes.

After 20 seconds, with a skimmer, pull both the almonds and the tomatoes out of the water and transfer to a colander. Add salt to the boiling water, lower the heat and cover to keep the temperature just below boiling.

Peel the tomatoes and set aside.

Skin the almonds and transfer to a small frying pan.

Slightly toast the almond and then let them cool completely.

Once the almond have cool down you are ready to assemble the sauce. At this time you are also ready to cook your pasta. Turn the heat up, bring the water to boil and cook your pasta “ al dente”!

In the food processor grind the almond, garlic and salt.

When the almonds are roughly chopped, add the basil.

Pulse until all the basil looks like is finely chopped and blended with the almonds. The mixture should result creamy but at the same time grainy. You should be able to see and feel small bits of almonds.

Add the tomatoes and pulse until they blend into the mixture.

Lastly add the pecorino cheese and the oil and pulse to blend.

Spoon 1/2 of the sauce into a large serving bowl and diluted with some of the pasta water.

Drain the pasta and drop into the bowl and toss quickly to coat the pasta. Add the remaining sauce and toss again.

Serve in individual bowl with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese.