Pesto al Trapanese by Kevin Penner as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

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When the tomatoes are vine-ripe it's time to make Pesto al Trapanese. By far the easiest and tastiest sauce. Period, read on..

Kevin Penner, George Hirsch from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV series

Chef Kevin Penner has opened and exec’d many top kitchens; this segment was filmed on the South Fork of Long Island's CittaNuova in East Hampton, NY. His passion to be within steps of the  farms has keeping him closer to the roots & vines— and as he puts it, “can be found loitering in the kitchen at highly acclaimed The North Fork Table & Inn.” Lucky for the North Fork, but I am happy he is still part of the East End Team! 

To say the Pesto al Trapanese is incredible is an understatement. But, as Kevin or any great chef will tell you it is about the ingredients. Underscore those tomatoes, no shortcuts. 

Chef Kevin Penner's Pesto al Trapanese as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Pesto al Trapanese by Chef Kevin Penner | 

10 ounces heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/3 cup roasted marcona almonds

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 large garlic clove, minced 

1 small Calabrian chilie in oil, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) (see note)

Kosher salt

A pinch of red pepper flakes 

1 pound pasta, preferably a long shape (spaghetti, linguine…I use house made chitarra)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated


Blend the almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, Calabrian chilie, salt to taste, and red pepper flakes in a blender until smooth and homogenous. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in evo, about 30 seconds.

Bring one gallon of water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 3 tablespoons of salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

Add tomato pesto and ½ cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, tweaking the consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta and forms a nice, creamy emulsion. Serve quickly with extra cheese on the side.

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