Pesto Marsala Style

(“Pesto Marsalese” – “Pistu a' Marsalisi”)


An interesting uncooked sauce is made in Marsala and in many towns in the province of Trapani, used for pasta’s condiment or to spread on hot bread to make very appetizing and flavorful pani cunzatu- filled bread, or a super bruschetta.

This sauce, called Pesto Marsalese differs from other pestos because the ingredients are chopped rather than crushed and the diverse taste of its components can be distinguished and its individual characteristics appreciated.

It is a must not to use a mortar and pestle or blend or mince the ingredients. However, chop them into small pieces and your efforts will be compensated with the pleasure you will get when sampling the Pesto Marsalese.

It is an easy, quick and versatile sauce to make: excellent condiment for pasta and exceptional for antipasto, served on top of toasted slices of Italian bread.



  • ½ cup of diced tomato 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 15 leaves of basil 
  • ¼ lb pecorino or Provola cheese 
  • ¼ lb diced toasted almonds 
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • pinch of oregano 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • red crushed pepper (optional) 


Finely chop the garlic, basil and pecorino or Provola cheese. Place in a bowl, add the diced tomato and mix in the olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and the crushed red pepper (optional).

It can be refrigerated overnight but it is preferable to use it the same day that it is made.



To make this sauce for 1 lb. of pasta, use 2 cups of tomato and double the amount of the other ingredients.
Drizzle some olive oil on top of each dish of pasta and sprinkle with some toasted breadcrumbs for a true Sicilian touch. 


                       Ziti e Pesto Marsalese


             Photo courtesy Elena Basile