Pesto alla Trapanese

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

Pesto alla Trapanese is a famous and delicious Sicilian sauce. It is one of those dishes you must try at least once in your life. 

The History of Pesto alla Trapanese 

The story goes that pesto alla trapanese, also known as agghiata trapanisa, originated  in the port of Trapani, a place of barter and exchange between cultures. It owes its origins to the transit of Genoese merchant ships loaded with products headed to the far East. Among these many products there was the Genoese agliata, a pesto prepared with basil, garlic and walnuts.

The people of Trapani adapted the recipe to the natural ingredients of their territory. Accordingly, they added what Sicily had to offer: almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. This gave rise to an ideal sauce for seasoning pasta, and also meat and bread. Consequently, this sauce became ideal for farmers and sailors. 

Trapanese pesto has had and still has an essential position of gastronomic and economic centrality. Its components are: garlic from Nubia (Paceco), pizzutello tomatoes from Paceco, extra virgin olive oil from the Trapanese Valleys, sea salt from Trapani and Paceco, Erice almonds, basil, and pecorino cheese.

pesto alla trapanese recipe

The final product is a pesto mainly used as an accompaniment to pasta.

Traditionally, pesto alla trapanese is consumed with busiate, a type of fresh pasta very common in western Sicily. Busiate is long and twisted, perfect for holding the sauce. This type of fresh Sicilian pasta is made only with water and durum wheat. It takes its name from the term buso, a knitting needle used in the Trapani area to work wool and cotton. Another derivation points to the buso, the stem of the “Disa”, a Mediterranean plant used in the past by farmers to tie bundles of ears. The busa was inserted on the stick of fresh pasta which was then “hollowed out” to form the characteristic spiral shape of the busiate.

 Traditionally, the pesto is prepared in a wooden mortar in order to retain all the properties of the ingredients, and to prevent any alteration to those ingredients.

busiate with pesto alla trapanese

How to make Pesto alla Trapanese?

pesto alla trapanese recipe

Pesto alla Trapanese recipe

Pesto alla trapanese is a type of pesto from Sicily. It is prepared with tomato, almonds, basil, pecorino cheese and abundant extra virgin olive oil.
4.10 from 10 votes
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Course: Sauce
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 180kcal



  • In a saucepan, place the tomatoes with very hot water and let them rest for 5 minutes so that the skin is easily removed. Peel them and cut them into very small pieces.
  • Remove the basil leaves from the stems, wash and dry them.
  • Peel the garlic and along with salt and almonds begin grinding them in a mortar.
  • Add the basil leaves slowly, continuing to grind the mixture.
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil a little at a time. Next, add the peeled and chopped tomatoes.
  • Grind the mixture until you have a grainy but homogeneous cream. Finally, add the grated Pecorino cheese and mix.
  • Season your pasta, adding toasted flaked almonds or bruschetta to taste.


Important and fundamental to the success of a good pesto is the use of an excellent extra virgin olive oil, which must be added to the grinding in the mortar little by little.
Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 625mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1643IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
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2 Responses to “Pesto alla Trapanese”

  1. Patrick Boylan says:

    Do you think this could be good cold? Like a cold pasta salad. Thank you

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