Thursday, June 21, 2012

Caper pesto: a recipe

caper pesto
Whole wheat spaghetti with caper pesto
When I think about those certain ingredients that draw me to a recipe in a cookbook or to a dish on a restaurant menu, I realize I'm probably a little too addicted to salt.

And bacon, but that's another story.

I'm mainly thinking of anchovies and capers, extra awesome when in combination. (Remember the Mediterranean tuna pasta? Just like that.)

So imagine my delight in finding a recipe for a pesto (one of my faves because of how easy it is) made largely with anchovies and capers.


Summer is a great time of year for pesto, since it requires a large amount of one herb or another as its base. I usually have an overabundance of basil, which often ends up as a traditional pesto that gets frozen in small containers for use throughout the winter.

But I love to experiment with non-traditional pesto recipes as well. Although the mustard green pesto I made one year wasn't a big hit with Mr. Ninj, the leek pesto received much better reviews. (Probably because of the prosciutto but hey, I'll take what I can get.)

This caper pesto is a winner: briney and fresh, without being too salty or too fishy.

caper pesto

caper pesto

I served it the first night over hot spaghetti (I love how the pesto just melts onto the pasta). The next night it made a fantastic base for a pizza with sundried tomatoes and bacon.

caper pesto

Yeah, you knew we'd come full circle back to bacon, didn't you?

Caper Pesto (adapted from a recipe by Cathy and Tony Mantuano)

5 tablespoons capers
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 anchovy filets
2 cups packed parsley leaves
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Place the capers, garlic, anchovies and parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add 1/4 cup of oil in a stream and process until smooth (add a bit more oil if necessary). Stir in the cheese.

  • This is more than enough pesto for a pound of whole wheat spaghetti.
  • I freeze pesto with the cheese already added and have never had a problem. This recipe was no exception.


  1. I am a huge fan of pesto. Love it in all of it's many ramifications, and this, my dear, sounds amazing!!! I love anchovies and capers, love salty, love this!!!

  2. I would have never thought of caper pesto. I would love it but my other half would turn up his nose. I want to try this when I am cooking just me! ;-)

  3. Let me know what you think if you make it, Pam. Susan: I, too, have a list of "make this when spouse is out of town" recipes!

  4. Ooh, caper pesto is a great plan. Super-pungent pasta for all & sundry!

  5. Pesto is one of my favorite things, and I always prefer to make it myself. I will have to try this recipe.

  6. I cannot even handle how amazing this looks and sounds! I found this through Pinterest and THEN discovered you're a fellow Vermonter. Even more awesome! Can't wait to have my husband make this!!

  7. Thanks so much, Lo, for your kind words and for letting me know how you found me. Happy to hear from another Vermont blogger!!