What Is Linosa Pesto?

Plum tomatoes

Perhaps best known for its figs, prickly pears, and lentils that grow in abundance on its volcanic soil, the island of Linosa is also home to a bright red pesto that shuns cheese but incorporates their beloved tomatoes.

This tiny island, which is almost 100 miles south-east of Palermo in Sicily, is home to less than 500 inhabitants and is largely reliant on agriculture. Like many regions of Italy, over time, cooks have tweaked and adapted the normal pesto recipe to utilise all the wonderful fresh ingredients that grow in the countryside around them.

Similar to Calabrese pesto, to make Linosa pesto (known locally as O’ Pistu Linusaru), the islanders incorporate tomatoes and almonds, which makes for an especially refreshing sauce.

Ingredients for 8-10 servings of Linosa pesto

Plum tomatoes 400g
Olive oil 100g
Almonds 40g
Basil 40g
Parsley 20g
Pine nuts 20g
Garlic x1 clove
Sea salt flakes as needed

Cut a small cross on each of your tomatoes and blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of cold water, peel them off, and discard the skins. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds. Pat dry with a sheet of kitchen roll to remove excess juices, and roughly chop.

Using a pestle and mortar, add the garlic clove and a generous pinch of salt. Pound the garlic until fully broken down, and then add the pine nuts and almonds.

Work the sauce until it becomes smooth and creamy and then add the tomatoes. Continue pounding until the tomatoes are fully broken down and then add the basil and parsley.

Work until the pesto again reaches a smooth consistency before very slowly drizzling in the olive oil.

Serve with spaghetti or linguine.