Red Pesto

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Red Pesto or Pesto Alla Siciliana is the southern cousin of its northern counterpart. Green Pesto.

Many recipes’s that I have seen have pine nuts or cashews in the ingredients list for red pesto. However, the authentic recipe actually has almonds in it. This is possible due to the hotter climate and the lack of pine trees in 16th Century Sillicy or more persifically, the province of Trapani.

This pesto is based on an older recipe that was brought to the Trapani region by ships from Genoese. This recipe was based on walnuts and garlic. The recipe was adapted using ingrediants local to the region and made in the same way as the northern Green pesto version.

You really should make this recipe. It is well worth the effort and the addition of almonds really adds to the depth of flavour. Besides, you are not going to find a traditional Red pesto in the local supermarket! The one I saw had just 1% of pine nuts in it and some sort of additive from egg!

The resulting red pesto goes a deep orange colour and it also certainly packs a whole heap of flavour! Like I have mentioned you really have to make this!

I even when as far semi-drying my cherry tomatoes! I had to use my oven for this as the climate in (not so!) Sunny Sheffield isn’t quite as nice as the Mediterranean. You can always use store brought semi-dried tomatoes but I really recommend that make your own for this red pesto.

Recipe for Traditional Red Pesto

This recipe is simple to produce, if you are drying out your tomatoes in the oven (as I did) then it also can be a little time consuming.

You can also always prepare more tomatoes than you need and sprinkle some of them with sea salt and thyme. These will work wonders in a salad!

For this recipe you will need;

  • 200 grams of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes (weight includes stalks)
  • 50 grams of almonds
  • Fifty ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 grams of parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • A small handful of basil leaves


chopping tomatoes

Take the tomatoes off of the stalks and slice in half. take a baking tray and rub some olive oil onto it. You don’t need much, all you need is enough for the tomatoes to not stick to the tray.

oven roasting tomatoes

once you have oiled the tray place your tomatoes on it and place into the oven for a couple of hours to dry out.

semi dried tomatoes

When they are semi-dried removed these and allow to cool, these are going to be the base for your red pesto.

basil leaves

In a blender, add in the semi-dried tomatoes, the almonds, basil leaves parmesan cheese and the olive oil. 

Place the lid back on and blitz it! From time t time you may have to remove the lid and scrape the sides of the blender.

red pesto

Once you have a smooth consistency you red pesto is ready. Simply transfer to a bowl, ready for your amazing creation!

Once you have made this red pesto you can keep it in the fridge for about a week.

I use this pesto alla siciliana as the base for my creamy red pesto tortellini dish which you can catch here.

Catch the how-to Video Here

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