Penne with Trapanese Pesto

No that does not say TRAPEZE.

But the weird thing is, the little penne pastas kind of look like little trapezes, don’t they? And I didn’t even plan that. THE STARS ALIGN ON THIS GLORIOUS DAWN, Y’ALL.

Trapanese pesto is yet another Lidia-inspired recipe. And yes, I’m completely obsessed with her, thanks. I think it’s the gaps of silence on her show that calm me. It’s not a busy show. She’s not a hyper-active woman like someone I think I know maybe probably. At the end of everything she does, whether it be carving a chicken, adding stock to a pot, or crushing fresh garlic, she’ll glance up at the camera with a tiny grin and say, “oooo.kay.” But the KAY part goes up just slightly. And I like it.


A kabillion moons ago on a routine PBS-induced Saturday morning my jaw fell to my ankles and all the coffee spilled out of my head when I watched her pull together this seriously stunning pesto. At that time in my life I was basically accustomed to your classic basilgarlicpinenutscheeseoilsaltpepperandlove kind. And then my world took an unexpected turn.

Lightly toasted almonds instead of pine nuts? Shoooooooot, yah. 

Addition of cherry tomatoes? I mean I can think of no reason not to.

Flippin’ pepperoncini up in it? Wooooooooord to your mother.


Yeah. Jiggle your pinky finger in that, taste it and tell me that is not a promise of a new day.

And on top of that, since it’s a pesto, you don’t even have to willy nilly with simmering it during a time of global confusion with temperature conditions of brutal degrees, cicada killers on the loose, and the faint memory of rain that we’re most likely to never ever experience again.

Forget the pinky finger thing. Make it your entire hand.

And face.

Penne with Trapanese Pesto:

(adapted from Lidia)

What it took for 4:

* 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
* 1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
* 2 cloves garlic
* 12 basil leaves
* 1 pepperoncini, stem removed
* 1 pinch crushed red pepper
* 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
* 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 pound penne pasta
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, pepperoncini, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine. You don’t have to use all the pesto if you don’t want to. Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.

Serve with with more cheese and basil!


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42 Responses to Penne with Trapanese Pesto

  1. Cookbook Queen July 23, 2012 at 8:28 am #
    Promise of a New Day? Paula Abdul, late 90's. I hate that my mind even automatically went there :/ This pasta looks super fab...and now I'm dying to see that cooking show!!
  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food July 23, 2012 at 8:31 am #
    HA! I use my fingers all the time to taste dishes that I'm making. Germs? What are those? I've never ever heard of this pesto, and I've made a lot of pesto! So glad to have something new to try!
  3. claire @ the realistic nutritionist July 23, 2012 at 8:39 am #
    Oh yum!!!
  4. Kathryn July 23, 2012 at 8:58 am #
    This is one of my fave types of pesto but one that I haven't made for ages, my food processor is just calling out for some almond love.
  5. Chris July 23, 2012 at 9:10 am #
    Looks delish! And it's the perfect recipe to use up some of the ridiculous growth of cherry tomatoes and basil i have this year. =)
  6. Katie July 23, 2012 at 9:31 am #
    I have a tomato plant that is just taking over my garden and my thank you muchly for devising a plan for me to get them all into my belly swiftly.
  7. Tracey Evans July 23, 2012 at 9:43 am #
    Oh yes! Love me some Lidia! Never thought of adding almonds to pesto. Sounds great!!! :)
  8. Erin July 23, 2012 at 10:33 am #
    I love this sauce
  9. Angie@Angie's Recipes July 23, 2012 at 11:25 am #
    Love pesto, green or red...the pasta looks delish.
  10. Lisa | With Style and Grace July 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm #
    this has my name written ALL over it!
  11. Cassie July 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #
    Man, this is my kind of pesto, love the almonds in there!
  12. Ashley July 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm #
    Oh my gawwwwwd girl. This needs to be dinner very very soon!
  13. Katie @ Blonde Ambition July 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm #
    Pepperoncinis in pesto? I am allllll about that.
  14. Megan @ Country Cleaver July 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm #
    I was imagining the Trapanese to be a really fun and probably terribly dangerous game of jumping from a trampoline to a trapeze and performing some sort of Cirq de Whatever move until you landed back on the trampoline again only to end up with some tragic orthopedic injury. But graceful it would be!! Much like Lidia. I wonder if she's taking applications for new grandchildren. I'd sign up for that.
  15. Heather at FarmgirlGourmet July 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm #
    Looks....freakin delish!! I wish my tomatoes would hurry up and turn so I can make this!! Gorgeous!!
  16. Kathleen Richardson July 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm #
    That is such a beautiful pesto and a really nice change from the traditional pestos. You've created a winner here, Bev. Keep writing...
  17. Julie @ Table for Two July 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm #
    wow, this is amazing
  18. Cookie and Kate July 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm #
    You're cracking me up. Apparently I need to familiarize myself with this Lydia lady because her this trapanese pesto sounds amaaaazing.
  19. Heather (Heather's Dish) July 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm #
    i want to bathe in this pesto!
  20. shelly (cookies and cups) July 24, 2012 at 6:38 am #
    Pesto with tomato? What is happening right now? Love Lydia.
  21. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids July 24, 2012 at 7:58 am #
    Now this looks like pasta perfection. Truly.
  22. Jen @ Savory Simple July 24, 2012 at 8:21 am #
    Ha, I had the same thought as Natalie! Pasta perfection, indeed.
  23. ruthie July 25, 2012 at 1:45 am #
    I have just been eyeing a small jar of this pesto, undecided about buying it because I didn't know what it was. O.M.G. I am so glad I checked by here. This sounds excellent. I, too, am a Lidia-lover. She makes it all look so simple, never gets flustered, just turns out one gorgeous dish after another. And the great techniques! Ahem. I'm sure you understand just what I mean.
  24. MJ July 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm #
    Made this last night and it was great! Thanks, we will definitely make this again, thru everything in the cuisinart and it was quick and easy and I had all the fresh ingredients! One of those meals that you find yourself going back for seconds...thirds! Darn it! Thanks, love your site! It's great that you have so many veggie meals as I'm trying to do more of that type of cooking!
  25. Beth July 28, 2012 at 11:43 am #
    This looks amazing!! Question about the pepperoncini... did you use pickled? Do they even show up at stores fresh? I have a jar of sliced that I need to use up and this sounds perfect!!
    • Bev Weidner July 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm #
      Hey, Beth! I DO used the pickled kind. The ones in the jar - they might even say banana peppers or something. But yep, straight from the jar, stem removed and tossed in the processor!
      • Beth July 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm #
        Thanks so much for the speedy reply!! Fixin' this up today or tomorrow!
  26. Casey July 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm #
    Just made this tonight - both the hubs and I loved it! SO delicious and easy; something different for us we managed not to eff up! Thanks!!
    • Bev Weidner July 29, 2012 at 8:42 am #
      So glad you guys enjoyed it!
  27. Sarah July 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm #
    I whipped up a batch of this for dinner tomorrow. It was so good that not only did I make some pasta and toss it was some of this deliciousness right away, I also went ahead and made a second batch. The hubs and I plan on using it on pizza at the end of the week (if it makes it that long)
  28. Sasha @ The Procrastobaker August 5, 2012 at 5:00 am #
    This looks like just the sort of dish I would love! Beautiful photos too :)
  29. jackie August 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #
    Hi Bev. I just stumbled upon your site after seeing this recipe on tastespotting. I'm going to give this dish a try tonight for our meatless Monday. My kids are over the traditional basil pesto so this will be a nice switch. I'm glad I read through the comments as I was not to sure where to grab a pepperoncini. I will let you know how it turns out. Jackie
  30. Carrie April 22, 2013 at 8:14 am #
    Wow! I was totally laughing at your description of Lidia. And salivating over the recipe for the pesto. Can't wait to pick up the ingredients on the way home from work to make tonight. I didn't think there was any other kind of pesto except for "green" pesto. Thank you!!
  31. JWilson November 21, 2016 at 8:39 pm #
    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious!
  32. Stephanie Haly August 30, 2017 at 7:03 am #
    I'm not sure you'll read this comment but I knew I wanted a pesto made with fresh tomatoes and I doubted I'd find the one I was looking for. You saved me! Thank you very much. I need to use up a glut of fresh tomatoes and I wanted that fresh taste of a pesto.
  33. Tansay October 13, 2022 at 7:24 pm #
    This truly is wonderful. We have it at least 3 times a fresh tomato/basil season. Thank you so much


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