This easy roasted cherry tomato pesto (Sicilian pesto) recipe only requires 5 ingredients and is so delicious used for pasta, pizza, sandwiches, crostini, and more.
Pesto is one of those flavor hitters that can instantly liven up any dish. I use it in so many recipes, like my caprese chicken, pesto chicken, pasta salad, and pizza. But have you ever tried Sicilian pesto (pesto alla Trapanese)? Think of a typical Genovese (basil) pesto but with cherry tomatoes (total game-changer), and almonds instead of pine nuts (another win, since they’re not as pricy). I love my classic, easy pesto recipe, but this Sicilian version is exceptionally tasty and equally versatile. Traditionally, pestos were ground in a mortar and pestle (“pesto” means “crush” in Italian), though I make mine in a food processor for efficiency. I also opt to roast my tomatoes because it doesn’t take long and the extra rich, complex flavor notes the tomatoes take on from the roasting is totally worth it. This step is optional, but highly recommended.
What’s in This Tomato Pesto
You only need 5 ingredients (not counting olive oil or salt) to make this tomato pesto. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Slivered almonds
- Fresh basil
- Kosher salt
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Tomato Pesto
This tomato pesto recipe is a breeze to make. All you need is about 20 minutes for the tomatoes to roast, then blitz everything in a food processor, and voila—presto pesto! Roasting the tomatoes isn’t a traditional step in Sicilian pesto, and it’s not mandatory, but I really love how roasting enhances the tomatoes’ flavor.
Roast the Cherry Tomatoes
For an in-depth master recipe for roasted tomatoes, check out this quick roasted tomato recipe to use in salads, soups, or as a base for sauces.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Toss the tomatoes with olive oil (no need to add salt, since you’ll do that later).
- Roast for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Toast Your Almonds
Toasting the nuts makes them so much more flavorful, but keep a watchful eye so they don’t burn. While the tomatoes roast, toast your almonds. Add them to a small skillet over low heat and cook, tossing occasionally (so they toast evenly) for about 5 minutes.
Blitz Everything Together
Add the toasted almonds and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely ground (almost paste-like). Then add the cooled roasted tomatoes, basil, Parmesan, and salt, and pulse well to combine, using a spatula on the sides of the food processor (this can be on the chunkier side if you prefer but I like mine on the chunkier side). Drizzle the olive oil through the shoot while the processor is running until the mixture is emulsified and smooth.
THE BEST Tomato Pesto Recipe Ingredients
Choose fresh leafy basil. My summer garden provides plenty of fresh basil leaves, and that’s why you’ll find me making this sauce all summer long. But I don’t stop there. During the winter months, I buy containers of fresh basil I put in a pot to grow on my kitchen counter for a bit of freshness all winter long.
Roast your tomatoes. This step is not mandatory, nor is it typical in Sicilian pesto recipes, but I love taking the time to roast my cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes plump up and the juices start to caramelize and take on a deeper, richer flavor.
Toast the almonds for the nuttiest flavor. Place the almonds in a dry skillet or frying pan over medium-low, and cook for a few minutes or until they’re golden brown and you can smell their toasted aroma, shaking the pan or stirring as they cook. Be sure to keep a watchful eye. I’ve burned more nuts than I can count because these babies turn from lightly toasted to burned in just a few seconds. Immediately remove the nuts from the hot pan into a bowl or plate so they don’t continue to toast.
Use fresh and fruity olive oil for the lightest flavor. A light extra virgin olive oil keeps this sauce tasting fresh and light, and when added slowly to the rest of the ingredients provides the perfect emulsion.
How to Store Pesto
Eat the pesto straight away or store it in a jar with a tightly fit lid for up to 1 week. If storing for later, add a generous drizzle of olive oil to the top of the pesto. This will form an oily seal so it doesn’t turn dark. Simply stir into the sauce before using.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Pesto freezes beautifully, and this is a great option to keep in mind if you plan on making lots of pesto sauce this summer. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then transfer it to freezer-safe bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you store this easy pesto in larger containers, you’ll have to thaw the pesto out all at once. Just something to keep in mind!
What to Serve With Tomato Pesto
This pesto is close enough in flavor to your standard basil pesto that it can be used interchangeably in recipes.
- Pesto Chicken
- 30-Minute Chicken Caprese
- Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta with Broccoli
- The BEST Garlic Bread
- Pesto and Garlic Shrimp Bruschetta
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Tomato Pesto (Sicilian Pesto)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 1 large clove garlic , peeled and smashed
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and move them around with your hands to coat the tomatoes. Roast for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- While the tomatoes roast, toast your almonds. Add them to a small skillet over medium-low heat and cook, tossing occasionally until golden brown (so they toast evenly) for about 5 minutes.
- Add the toasted almonds and the garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the cooled roasted tomatoes (I use a slotted spoon or spatula so I don't get the roasting liquid), basil, Parmesan, and salt, and pulse well to combine, using a spatula on the sides of the food processor (this can be on the chunkier side if you prefer but I like mine pretty smooth). While the processor is running, drizzle the olive oil through the shoot until the mixture is emulsified and smooth.
- This pesto makes about 2 cups and will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
More Pesto Recipes
More Saucy Tomato Recipes
- Easy Tomato Pasta Sauce
- Penne Pasta with Marinara
- Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Shrimp Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Quick and Authentic Pasta Pomodoro Sauce
- Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Ricotta Cheese
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