From Sicily, basil combined with almonds and tomatoes. The recipe calls for blanched almonds. If your almonds have skins, taste one, and if it’s very bitter, then blanch them. Otherwise, use them with skins on.
1-1/3 c (blanched) almonds
2 – 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 c firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 t salt, or to taste
2 c chopped, very ripe, tomatoes
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
coarsely chopped almonds, for garnish, optional
1. To blanch almonds: Cover with boiling water. Set aside for 3 minutes. Drain, let cool a bit, then slip skins off by squeezing the almonds between your thumb and forefinger. Some blanchers drain the almonds from the hot water and then transfer them to an ice water bowl for a few minutes before peeling–they say it makes the skinning even easier. Place skinned almonds on paper towels or dish towels and blot dry. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 325ºF for about 10 minutes.
2. In a food processor, combine the almonds and garlic. Process until very finely chopped. Add the basil and salt. Process again until very finely chopped, almost a paste. Add the tomatoes and oil and process until the mixture has the consistency of a fine paste. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you think it’s needed.
3. Serve tossed with pasta, and garnished with the coarsely chopped almonds, sprinkled with, of course, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. This is also good on bread (think bruschetta), over boiled potatoes, cooked grains…