Tonnarelli with Caper Pesto

 Fast Weekday Pastas



  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 large garlic cloves

  • 1/4 cup chopped peeled tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed and patted dry (see Note)

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves (see Note)

  • 1 tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/2 pound imported dried tonnarelli, linguine or spaghettini

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)


  1. Fill a stockpot with 6 quarts of water, cover and bring to a boil.

  2. In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil with the garlic and bring to a boil, cooking briskly until the garlic is golden. Remove from the heat and let cool; swirl the pan to hasten the cooling.

  3. Transfer the garlic and oil to a blender or mini-processor. Add the tomato pulp and the capers and pulse until chopped. Add the parsley and oregano and pulse until chunky, then add the vinegar.

  4. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water and add the tonnarelli. Cover partially until the water just returns to a boil, then uncover, stir the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the tonnarelli, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the caper paste. If the linguine is dry, add some of the pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Garnish with Pecorino Romano cheese if desired and serve immediately.


If you cannot find capers in salt, you can use brine-packed capers, with these modifications: double the amount called for in the recipe and add 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt to give them a boost. So as not to overwhelm their delicate taste, reduce the oregano to 2 tablespoons.

Suggested Pairing

A good Sicilian wine is best here. Choose a white wine that emphasizes the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

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