• Basil is used to garnish dishes, like pasta, in Europe. (Cook like an Italian)Source: Cook like an Italian

Sicilian pesto is made with tomato as well as basil, giving it a light red colour. Here we add ricotta to give it a creamy texture and a lighter flavour.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (371 votes)


  • 250 g red lentil penne
  • 25 g (¼ cup) flaked almonds, toasted

Sicilian pesto

  • ½ garlic clove
  • 70 g blanched almonds
  • 80 g grated parmesan
  • 500 g truss tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of basil, leaves picked and a few reserved for serving
  • 150 g ricotta
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir and cook according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, for the Sicilian pesto, place the garlic, almonds and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until it resembles sand. Add the remaining ingredients and process for about 30 seconds or until well combined but not perfectly smooth, a little texture is welcome here. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.

3. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and reserve a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan and stir through the pesto, adding the reserved cooking water if needed. Serve in a bowl topped with the reserved basil and toasted flaked almonds.


Silvia Colloca shares her Italian family secrets in the brand-new series, Cook like an Italian.