Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween & Rigatoni w. Caper and Almond "Pesto"

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Is there anything better then a toddling sock monkey and a big bowl of pasta? I don't think so. Both are delicious.

Did it snow at your house? It did here and it's odd to see white slush on the pumpkins and leaves but it's sunny today so we are hitting the mean streets in the famous Mormor made costume (right after we eat another bowl of pasta of course).

Rigatoni with Caper and Almond "Pesto"
Slightly adapted from On Top of Spaghetti

Serves 6-8 as a first course or 4-6 as a main course

3/4 cup capers, soaked for 15-20 minutes in cold water
6 anchovy fillets*
3 1/2 ounces (1 cup) ground blanched almonds 
2 tablespoons fine unflavored bread crumbs
1 plump garlic clove, peeled and trimmed
6-8 large fresh mint leaves
3 springs fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice 1/2 lemon (my addition)**
1 pound dried rigatoni (for GF use your favorite pasta)
lemon slices for serving

*Nick and I found the pesto a bit too fishy for us. Next time I'd use 2-3 anchovy fillets to still get the rich flavor without the fishy taste. But if you like strong anchovy flavor then go for it.

**We tasted the pesto before tossing it with the pasta and it was a little flat. The lemon juice was the perfect addition. It's a must.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Drain the capers and dry on paper towels.

3. Combine all the ingredients except the pasta in a blender/food processor. Blend until you obtain a chunky puree. Set aside. (You may cover and refrigerate the pesto for a day or two. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before you cook the rigatoni).

4. Salt the boiling water and drop in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the rigatoni, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a heated serving bowl. Toss with pesto and add a little pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, if the sauce seems too thick. Serve right away with lemon wedges and parsley.

Why you should eat anchovies: 

  • Anchovies like sardines are high in heart friendly polyunsaturated fatty acids because it can help lower cholesterol level and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Anchovies are rich in healthy protein that is valuable for children and seniors.
  • Anchovies are also a good source of essential vitamins (vitamin E and D) and minerals (calcium and selenium).
  • Small fish like anchovies and sardines are better than bigger fishes because they contain less heavy metal such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic and environmental toxins. This is because smaller fish have a shorter life cycle so there is less possibility of them accumulating impurities. 
Why you should eat almonds:
  • Almond oil can help smooth wrinkles and improved complexion because it is rich in unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids.
  • Almond oil helps improved movement of food through the colon and therefore prevents colon cancer and other diseases in the intestines that results from constipation.
  • Studies showed that including 73g of almonds in the daily diet helps reduced cholesterol level in the blood.
  • Almond is considered food for the brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity.
  • Almond contains substances that have anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting effects
  • Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fats (good fat). Studies showed that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrates in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk.
  • Almonds can help keep the blood sugar under control.
  • Help prevent Gallstones
anchovy and almond information via


  1. Oh my word. Best costume, ever.

  2. First of all, I have to agree with Kelsey's comment -- hands down most creative, adorable Halloween costume! Looks warm, too.

    Second, as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian I'm quite glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I look forward to stopping over to see what new thoughts and recipes you have to offer!



  3. This sounds so great. I LOVE THE COSTUME!

  4. What a cutie, and I LOVE the costume!

    And thanks for the recipe!


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