A robust bucatini pasta dish, sauced with a toasted almond, dried tomato and fresh herb pesto and burrata cheese.
Here’s a recipe for bucatini with Sicilian almond pesto, which pairs long, hollow pasta noodles and decadently creamy burrata cheese with a nutty, savory sauce inspired by the flavors of Sicily and southern Italy.
Bucatini is a type of pasta shaped like chubby spaghetti, but with a hole in the middle (perciatelli is another name for the same pasta).
Some otherwise pasta-loving people feel bucatini can be frustrating to eat, mostly because it’s too thick to twirl around a fork — a lot of slurping is involved. I get around that small inconvenience by adapting to this mindset: When a plate of bucatini is sitting in front of you, forget your about table manners and just dig in with gusto.
The best sauces for bucatini match the chewy nature of the pasta — hearty and full of texture. In Sicily, a traditional bucatini sauce is made with pine nuts, currants, sardines and fennel — con le sarde — while in Rome you’ll see it with all’amatriciana, a pancetta, tomato and red chili sauce.
For this recipe, I was inspired by another sauce specific to Sicily, pesto alla trapanese, which is based on almonds and tomatoes. The chunks of almond add a delectable, coarse texture to the sauce, almost like crunchy breadcrumbs.
I love to add an extra layer of savory umami to this pasta by tossing in these slow-roasted tomatoes. Give it a try!
bucatini with burrata and sicilian almond pesto
Yield 4 servings
If you don't have bucatini, this pesto sauce would be great on rigatoni, another thick, chewy pasta or even spaghetti. Buffalo or fresh mozzarella balls make an excellent substitute for burrata cheese.
- 1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted for 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven
- 3/4 cup moist sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
- 1 loosely packed cup Italian parsley leaves
- 1 loosely packed cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 pound dried bucatini pasta
- 4 ounces burrata cheese
- Grated pecorino romano and fresh basil and/or parsley leaves (optional, for garnish)
- Pulse the almonds in a food processor for a few seconds until they're roughly chopped.
- Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, garlic, chili and salt and pulse to a rough paste. Add the olive oil and continue to process until the sauce is like crunchy almond butter - you want small pieces of almond in there so don't go overboard.
- Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and stir in the cheese.
- Bring a large (5- 6 quart) pot of water to a boil. Season with 2 tablespoons salt.
- Cook the pasta until it's al dente. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta.
- Mix 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the pesto until it forms a creamy, saucy consistency, adding more water a little at a time if it's too thick. Add the hot pasta to the bowl and toss with the sauce.
- Tear the burrata into pieces and distribute over the pasta (it will be too soft to slice).
- Sprinkle the pasta with a little more grated romano cheese and some of the herb leaves, if you like.