Mario Batali's Spicy Sicilian Pesto is an authentic Southern Italian condiment perfect for mixing with all shapes of pasta. Flavored with chiles, almonds and fennel seeds it has a distinctive spicy taste that I love.
The pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated topped with olive oil, in a container with a tight fitting lid; making this yet another quick weeknight dinner option.
Pasta with Spicy Sicilian Pesto
(Adapted from Mario Batali)
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon crushded red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino
1 pound pasta
Bring 8 quarts water to a boil in large pasta pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water. Drop the pasta into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Reserve 1/4 cup of water.
Place the basil, mint, garlic, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and almonds in a food processor and pulse three times to start the chopping process. Add the oil in a thin stream and pulse four or five times to create a thick paste (not a thin, oily sauce). Add 1/4 cup of the cheese and pulse once to mix it in. Season with salt if needed.
Drain the pasta in a colander, and put in a large bowl. Toss it gently with the pesto and reserved pasta water until the pasta is nicely coated. Serve with remaining cheese.