Not sure how we made it so fast to the end of May, but here we are!  And the last Monday of the month brings with it the Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club.  Bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each other’s site for a nice recipe, and blog about it on the same day.  This month I was paired with Erin, from The Spiffy Cookie.  She is a graduate student working on her PhD in Microbiology and that immediately puts us both in a similar page.  Granted, I probably had my PhD before she was born, but still… I know what it takes and how frustrating it can be to get there.   As I always say to the students in the lab, “science is not for sissies“.  But, I digress.   I spent quite a bit of time on her site, tempted by many of her recipes. A few examples for you:  Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary Yogurt, Apple Oatmeal Breakfast MuffinsNutella Mousse (that almost made my final cut), and Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread Snack Cake (do I need to say anything more?).  But, in the end, my heart was set on Penne with Trapanese Pesto, because it seemed like the type of recipe Phil and I would love.  Plus, the almonds in the sauce take me to a Persian aura that is quite welcome in our kitchen these days. So, without further ado, my contribution to the SRC this month…

Sally(photo kindly optimized by an angel called Sawsan…)

(slightly adapted from The Spiffy Cookie)

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic
12 basil leaves
1-2 anchovies filets (or to taste)
2 tsp capers
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, anchovies, capers, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine.  Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Serve  with more cheese and basil.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I made two small modifications in the recipe, adding capers and anchovies to the pesto. Now, for those who personally know me, it will be shocking to learn I added anchovies were anchovies were not called for.  Yes, indeed, I don’t like anchovies, but have been working on improving our relationship.  For one of those virtual coincidences, a food blog I recently fell in love with (Chef Mimi Blog) had a post on Trapanese Pesto, and she added anchovies.  Being a certified anchovy-wimp, I added only 1 small filet, carrying it with the tip of the fork, arm extended as far as I could to avoid its pungent aroma…   🙂  Capers seemed like a natural partner for all other ingredients,  so into the pesto they went.

This was a delicious meal! For my taste, Trapanese pesto beats the Genovese by a long shot.  Less oily, less pungent.  The recipe made more sauce than needed for our pasta dinner, leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Erin, it was great to stalk your blog for recipes and get to know your site better (although I’ve visited your blog many times before) through this month’s adventure with SRC.  For those who want to see the full collection of recipes posted by members of our group, click on the funky frog and have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: Superman

TWO YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango


  1. You surely so not have to advise us to ‘enjoy’ – reading this recipe that kind’of goes without saying 🙂 ! Anchovies/capers on the one side, almonds on the other – combine! How can we not!! And it is so easy to prep!!! Thanks 😀 !


    • Indeed, so easy! I love the fact you can make the pesto even a couple of days ahead, and leave it in the fridge. Bring to room temperature, add the hot pasta, and voila’! DINNER!


    • Went back to read other comments, as I did not remember seeing anything objectionable when I left my comment. I guess they came later 😉 Well, don’t you love when people get mad because “it’s not authentic?” With cuisines that get so much influence from each other and families adapting recipes to their personal taste, what’s the problem with variations? I see people going crazy because of a little sugar in tomato sauce, but I’ve seen excellent, traditional Italian cookbooks that recommend exactly that “because Grandma did it that way” – capital sin? I don’t think so! Just a different take on a “classic”


      • I think it shows a lot about these people’s personalities, because all of us who cook international cuisines know that there are variations of every traditional dish. I don’t feel that a cooking blog is a forum to invite debate and controversy, but about four men who are fellow bloggers seem to… So annoying. It almost takes the fun out of it.


    • Don’t you love checking what people pick from a site you’ve had? This month Earthquake cookies were one of the choices, and I picked that exact same recipe months ago…


  2. Have to admit that I never heard of trapanese sauce, but it looks so delicious I will have to familiarize myself with it … several times. But with 1 anchovy because, like you, I find it has a very strong flavor.


  3. I love the idea of almonds in a pesto. I have to say that I am not on good terms with anchovies, I totally laughed the the tip of spoon at arm’s length part. I do that too!
    This recipe is beyond interesting and I will give it a go soon
    P.S. I am hardly an angel, it was my pleasure to help 🙂


  4. That looks delightful, Sally, and my family adores anchovies, so I may add more. I’m not sure that would be wise, and will try it with two the first time I make it. I have a feeling that this recipe is a keeper. I’m not a lover of anchovies, either, but I do like the punch of flavor they add to dishes when “melted”. The leftover sauce would likely free nicely, too.


  5. Hi Sally–this looks so savory that I am drooling over it. It’s a drizzly day here in Chicago, and this would really hit the spot! And how interesting is it that you should be paired up with Erin, both involved in post grad microbiology?!


    • Actually my PhD was in Biochemistry, but I taught Microbiology for a few years after getting my PhD, and worked in a Micro department. I guess I was in between both fields, sort of…


    • So many people love anchovies, I had to convince myself to give them a chance… I try to think “salty” when I feel their taste. Salty. Not nasty. Salty. Not nasty. Salty 😉


  6. I’ve never heard of this type of pesto but it sounds great and looks so vibrant in your pictures. I know you don’t heat the freshly made pesto, just pour it over the hot cooked pasta but would you suggest warming the leftover pesto that’s been refrigerated a bit or at least bring it to room temperature before using?


    • When I used the leftovers I put them in the microwave for 20 seconds – and quickly removed the dish, then mixed the contents with a spoon. It was a little warmer than room temperature then. I guess each microwave might be a little different, but I was afraid of using a sauce pan, I felt the microwave would give me just a little heat. Worked great!


    • Very fresh and flavorful – I am a bit sad it took me so long to try it, I had never had this type of pesto, not even in a restaurant. But, better late than never, right? 😉


  7. I love pasta dinners – that’s probably the understatement of the year – and I know I would love this meal. I’ve never seen a sauce prepared like this before. The almonds sound very interesting. This also sounds like a good way for me to try anchovies. Mike loves them and I’ve always wanted to give them a try again. I hope you all had a great weekend Sally!


  8. Hi Sally. There is nothing like a big bowl of pasta. Absolute comfort food. I love this unique pesto recipe too. We have a huge jar of almonds just waiting to be used! Thank you for sharing, my friend!


  9. I’ve been following Erin’s blog for a while and got to meet her a few months ago in NYC! She is the best! And this pasta looks so good. I probably wouldn’t have been able to choose just one recipe from her blog though!


    • How cool! I had no idea you met her in person.. yeap, her blog was a tough one to choose from, but that’s the kind of “problem” I love to face

      Come to think of it, if I had to pick from your blog I’d probably have to leave the SRC. Impossible task 😉


  10. Pingback: Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta | Yoku's Thought Bubbles

  11. This is an old favorite, though mine uses peperoncini and no anchovies nor capers … well, until now, that is. 🙂 Your version sounds delicious, Sally. Since cherry tomatoes are relatively good year-round, I like to make this pesto in the dead of Winter. It’s a nice reminder of Summer when I need it.


  12. It took me years to move closer to the anchovy tin, a longing to copy a friends outstanding ceasar salad dressing made me do it. Now I have this one to entice me! I’ve never heard of adding almonds, the flavors and texture must have led you to second helpings:) I need to make more pasta now! xx


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