from one generation to the next
We have a fabulous multicultural TV channel in Australia, SBS. Late one night about ten years ago we lucked upon a sub titled Sicilian TV detective series, Inspector Montalbano. Our enjoyment of this series introduced us to the fictional works of Andrea Camilleri, his main protagonist a natural counterpart to another favourite, Donna Leon’s Venetian detective, Brunetti
Both have a disdain for authority and will not be intimidated by the underworld, both stop each day to enjoy lunch and the food that is served takes a starring role in the story. So as not to be distracted from his pleasure, Salvo Montalbano even refuses to talk while eating. Donna Leon has gone as far as to publish a book of the recipes that Brunetti enjoys, but it was Montalbano’s enthusiastic praise of his housekeeper’s Pesto Trapanese that sent me scurrying to the internet, amazed it had escaped my notice.
There are probably as many variations on this recipe as their are cooks in Sicily. After reading several blogs and well known chef’s recipes, this was the formula I came up with. Sweet tasty tomatoes and fresh basil are on show here and they make a fresh and lively summertime sauce. I used my inaugural Pesto Trappenese to dress my first (successful) attempt at making potato gnocchi gluten free. Stay tuned, there’ll be a gnocchi post soon
We loved the flavours, but Montalbana would have been disgusted with the general chit chat at our table.
2 cloves garlic peeled and squashed
1/2 cup almond meal (or whole raw almonds)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Good grinding of black pepper
400g tasty cherry tomatoes, washed (2 punnets)
1 cup basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
In the food processor, blitz the garlic cloves and almonds into a fine meal. Add the tomatoes, chilli, salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Blitz until the tomatoes are pulped then add the basil leaves and with the motor running drizzle in the olive oil. Tip the pesto into a bowl then stir in the grated cheese.
This quantity will dress enough pasta for 4 serves.