Hello everyone! Here is a great recipe with a Sicilian twist. Are you familiar with Busiate, a pasta from Trapani located in the western part of Sicily? It is a typical corkscrew-shaped pasta that is made from durum wheat flour and is one of Sicily’s most popular types of pasta. The origins of this dish can be traced back to sailors from Genoa who introduced the locals of Trapani to Pesto Alla Genovese, the basil pesto that most of us know. The Trapanese created their very own version of the Genovese pesto by giving it a Sicilian twist. They added tomatoes and almonds. Presto! Busiate alla Trapanese was born. There are several variations of this dish that you will find around Western Sicily. Some cooks might add tuna roe (bottarga), spice it up with some chili pepper, or even serve it topped with grated Pecorino cheese or ricotta salata. The traditional Trapanese way is without these variations; the dish is finished with a sprinkling of toasted bread crumbs instead of the cheese. But of course, you are the chef of your kitchen and you can modify any recipe to your own personal tastes.
How to Make Busiate Alla Trapanese
- Busiate pasta – 500 gams or 1 pound
- Tomatoes – 1 kg or 2 pounds of Corbarino, Plum, Cherry or Piccadilly tomatoes
- Fresh basil – 1 small bunch
- Lemon zest- 1 strip, chopped fine (optional)
- Almonds – 100 g/1 cup (blanched and lightly toasted)
- Extra virgin olive oil (As per your requirement)
- Peeled garlic – 3 cloves
- Black pepper – to taste
- Salt – 1 pinch
- Pecorino cheese – 100 g/1 cup (grated)
- Breadcrumbs – 100 g/1 cup
Preparing the Sauce
Making Busiate alla Trapanese is pretty easy. The first thing you need to do is prepare the sauce. Fill a saucepan with water and place it on the stove to boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn off the stove. Place the tomatoes in the water for 2 minutes and then drain the water. Let the tomatoes cool down.
- Peel the tomatoes and cut them in half. Remove the seeds.
- Toast the almonds. Do not add any oil and keep the flame low. Make sure you don’t burn the almonds.
- Take a blender or food processor and add the toasted almonds, basil leaves, lemon zest and peeled garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt.
- Or, you can do this step by hand with a kitchen knife.
- Slowly add some olive oil while blending the ingredients until you get a coarse paste.
- Next, add the tomatoes, the almonds and half (50 grams) of the grated Pecorino cheese. Blend all again until the sauce has a coarse yet creamy consistency. You can also use a mortar to grind these ingredients, if you prefer.
- You can adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding more olive oil (if it is too dry) or additional cheese (if it is too runny).
Tip: Typically the sauce should be thick enough to nicely coat the back of a spoon when it is dipped into and then removed from the sauce.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Now let the sauce stand for 30 minutes. This will allow the flavor to develop.
- If not using immediately, you can store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Toast the breadcrumbs over moderate heat in a small skillet.
- Make sure you don’t burn them.
- If you prefer to garnish with Pecorino cheese instead, then you can skip this step.
Tip: You can also combine the Pecorino cheese with the breadcrumbs and then top the dish with it.
Cooking the Pasta
- Fill a pot with water and place it on the stove. Add salt to it when the water starts to boil.
- Add the Busiate pasta to the water and stir well.
- Cook it according to the instructions on the package.
- Once the pasta is ready, drain it and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta back to the pan.
- Add the sauce to the cooked the pasta immediate while it is still hot.
Tip: Do not use any additional heat for this step. The residual heat from the pasta as you stir it with the sauce will be enough to coat the pasta. Extra heat will alter this delicate sauce and change its unique and delicious taste.
- Mix well. If the sauce appears too dry, you can add some of the water you used for cooking the pasta.
- Sprinkle the pasta with the breadcrumbs or grated cheese. Buon appetito!