While most of us think of the vibrant, basil-packed pesto Genovese as the only pesto, in Italy pesto refers to any sauce that’s been pestata, or pounded with a mortar and pestle.

“Everybody knows and loves pesto Genovese, but the Sicilian town of Trapani is also renowned for a pesto recipe that combines nuts and herbs with two other iconic Italian ingredients: ricotta and tomatoes,” writes Silvia Colloca in her new cookbook Simple Italian.

It’s traditionally made with busiate, a curly handmade pasta, but the Sydney-based chef, food writer, TV producer and host says you can also eat it with linguine, rigatoni, casarecce and orecchiette. Colloca’s also not fussed if you use a food processor to whiz up the ingredients rather than do the pounding by hand. That way, she says, you can have the sauce prepared quickly – very quickly.

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“The results are sensational and if, like me, you make this in the food processor, your next meal is only 10 minutes away,” she writes.

Simplicity and ease are at the centre of Colloca’s 100 recipes. The book, which is dedicated to her mum and late nonnas Pina and Irene, is all about convincing people they can cook, no matter their skills or time constraints. Plus, she says, “Italian home cooking is the perfect gateway to [a] sensory universe, as its frugal nature – what Italians call ‘cucina povera’ (peasant-style cooking) – is nourishing, accessible and cost-effective, not to mention incredibly delicious.”

Silvia Colloca’s busiate alla trapanese
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

Dry bought pasta of your choice, preferably busiate (you can also make pasta from scratch if you prefer)
Basil leaves, to serve (optional)
3 tbsp toasted almond flakes (optional)

Pesto trapanese
70g blanched almonds

2 garlic cloves
80g freshly grated parmigiano
150g fresh ricotta
4–5 semi-dried tomatoes
500g truss tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large bunch of basil, stalks trimmed
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

To make the pesto trapanese, place the almonds, garlic and parmigiano in a food processor and whiz until it resembles sand. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds or until combined but not perfectly smooth – a little texture is welcome here. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spoon the pesto into a large serving bowl.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the busiate and cook as per the packet. Once done, use a slotted spoon to lift the pasta straight into the serving bowl, dragging along a little of the pasta cooking water, and mix thoroughly with the pesto.

Serve as is, or top with some basil leaves and toasted almond flakes if you like.

This is an extract from Simple Italian, by Silvia Colloca. Published by Plum, $39.99. Photography by Rob Palmer. Cook Like an Italian airs on SBS Food from Thursday April 8 at 8pm.

Looking for more cooking inspiration? See Broadsheet’s *recipe hub.*