Spicy Sicilian Pesto for all of your pasta, pizza, and grilled meat needs.

Spicy Sicilian Pesto with Garlic Scapes

You guys, my ass is tired, both literally and figuratively.

We’re coming off a streak of weekends where we were either hosting guests or being guests ourselves, and while it’s been a lot of fun, it’s kind of sapped my inspiration for cooking. That’s not to say that we haven’t been cooking of course, but we’ve definitely relied on old favorites rather than new recipes, and I’m hoping that this upcoming weekend I can rectify that and spend some quality time with my cookbook collection. During this same time I’ve had some pretty intense workouts (this is what happens when you watch the kickass women in the Crossfit regionals) so there have been several days where I tend to walk like Frankenstein’s monster after getting out of my car or a chair.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Spicy Sicilian Pesto

The remedy to the latter problem is fairly easy: take it down a few notches for a little bit in the gym and embrace the few extra rest days that will happen due to some travel and a few mid-week engagements. As for the former, I made myself sit down and find a few new-to-me recipes on Sunday morning to not only get back into my kitchen groove, but also in posting here more regularly again, and on that score I definitely succeeded because the dish I made for Sunday supper was dynamite.

Prior to that, though, one of the most exciting things I’ve made during this time was a twist on a Sicilian pesto I first found by Mario Batali by way of Serious Eats; unlike pesto Trapanese it’s based more on the more traditional pesto Gevonese, but it gets a kick thanks to some mint, serrano peppers, and dried red pepper. After finding some garlic scapes at the market near my office I decided to make it very seasonal by using a few of those in lieu of regular garlic cloves, and subbed in pistachios for the almonds because we had them and the pistachio is still a very Sicilian ingredient.

Spicy Sicilian Pesto Pizza with Burrata and Shallots.

I made this years ago once when Michael’s parents came to visit us and it came out really well that time, and I don’t know what took me so long to revisit it. Prompted by a little panic over not having done meal prep this past week because my schedule was a little off, this came about because I only needed a few ingredients and everything would be readily available at the aforementioned market, and I could pull together the sauce while the grilled chicken was cooking away on the Griddler. I was so pleased with the results that I immediately resolved to make pizza this past weekend so I would have an excuse to make another batch of it and use the rest to coat chicken for lunches that week, and it might have been one of our best pies ever with just some burrata and shallots scattered on top.

Spicy Sicilian Pesto
Adapted from Mario Batali via Serious Eats

Makes 1 1/2 cups pesto

2 cups basil leaves, well washed
1 cup mint leaves, stems removed
1 dried hot chile, crushed
3 garlic scapes or cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pistachios, roasted, salted, and toasted
2 serrano peppers, seeded and deveined to your taste (leave the seeds in for an extra kick)
Kosher salt to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino Romano, grated

Combine the first seven ingredients into a tall, narrow container and add a little of the olive oil to help get the pesto going. Using an immersion blender, start whizzing away and keep streaming in olive oil until you have the consistency that you like. Season with extra salt if needed, and then stir in the cheese before re-seasoning, if necessary. Spread on pizza, bread, grilled chicken, pasta, or if you have no shame, eat it with a spoon.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. I bet you’re drained, you poor thing.
    Working out is wearing me out lately too but it’s too late to start slacking now that warm weather is full on here.
    If this were March or even April, i’d take a goddamn break but I can’t now.
    So I keep plowing through, like you, making quick and reliably tasty things like this 🙂

    Speaking of – I wonder, what’s the difference between pesto and chimichurri? Texture?

    1. elizabeth says:

      My guess would be the vinegar in chimichurri and the cheese and nuts in pesto.

      1. Ahhh yeahhh, that’s right, there ARE nuts in pesto!

  2. i am a fan of using garlic scape in lieu of garlic, for that added burst of green and something a little more subtle. lately we’ve been making a concoction of olive oil + parsley + mint + garlic scape and we like to top it on chicken, or.. recently a cold soup.

    1. elizabeth says:

      That sounds awesome–I have a bunch more to work with so I’ll have to try that soon!

  3. shannon says:

    Do you do the thing when you’ve maybe gone too hard at the gym where you really have to think about sitting down? And then if you DO decide to sit down, you sort of have to plan how you’re going to accomplish it? yeah…i get that. 🙂 This looks intensely good: I haven’t made a ton of pesto this year being as I don’t currently have an herb garden going, but this…THIS. The mint and pistachio are really doing it for me (as is that photo of pizza, because wow.) Definitely going on my list.

    1. elizabeth says:

      For me it’s not so much the sitting down as it is the getting up, but I’ve been there!

  4. This sounds like a tasty way to change it up from the usual tomato-based sauces! Great recipe.

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