Last year my parents travelled to Sicily on holiday and whilst there sampled one of the local dishes, Busiate al Pesto Trapanese. They brought back a bag of busiate, which I demolished instantly. Busiate are essentially a chunkier and longer version of Ligurian trofie, also often eaten with pesto. The latin root of the word pesto gave birth to the English word pestle, which is what you’d have originally used to make this sauce. As you travel up and down the peninsula and Italian islands, pesto comes in a few different variations. Liguria, where I grew up, has the world famous original Pesto alla Genovese, that we all know and love. Its Trapanese relative makes a refreshing change to the original, whilst still maintaining it’s full-on flavour and zestiness.
Busiate are great with all sorts of sauces, but this light trapanese sauce is hard to beat when summer is in full swing. So let’s get twisting some pasta dough.
Serves 2 as main or 4 as starter. Prep time 40mins; cook time 10mins.
For the pasta:
200g ’00’ flour
1 tsp fine salt
60ml water approx.
200g fresh spinach
For the pesto:
50g unskinned almonds, toasted
2 cloves of garlic
100ml extra virgin olive oil
a bunch of fresh basil
50g pecorino cheese, grated
8 vine ripened tomatoes
Wilt the spinach. Drain and squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Tip onto a board and finely chop. Finally spread the spinach into a paste using the flat side of a knife.
In a mixing bowl add the flour and salt, making a well in the middle. Slowly add the water, amalgamating the flour with a fork. Add in the spinach and mix into the flour.
Tip onto a floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes until you have shiny dough with a uniform green colour.
Wrap with cling film and leave in the fridge for 1hr.
Divide into 10 or so pieces of dough, wet your hands slightly with water and roll each piece into long and thin bread stick-like strands.
Chop into 10-15 cm pieces, lightly flour and twist individually along a bbq skewer. Slide each pasta shape off and set aside on a lightly floured surface.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add in the tomatoes and simmer for 1 min. Tip into a colander and run under cold water. Remove the tomato skins which should now come away easily. Half the tomatoes, removing the seeds, then roughly chop and set aside.
Add the almonds in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. Now add the basil, garlic, olive oil and pecorino. Give it all a quick blitz until you have a pesto-like consistency.
Combine with the chopped tomatoes, season and fold everything together. Set aside to let the flavours infuse.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil – the bigger the better so the pasta can bubble around and not stick. Add in the pasta and cook for 6-8mins.
Drain and tip into a serving bowl with the fresh pesto, and toss around. Garnish with any remaining basil leaves, some salt and pepper and a grating of pecorino.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below! Thanks for reading