Broccoli and basil pesto with capers, red chilli & anchovies pasta

Some of my most creative creations come from – clearing out the fridge! When there’s not much in it, and I’m forced to get the best out of what we’ve got. On this occasion, I came up with a delicious pesto of basil and pine nuts with capers, red chilli and anchovies! You’ll notice there’s no cheese in this pesto – we certainly didn’t miss it. The sauce was tossed with steamed broccoli and pasta. I think it would have worked really well with braised kale or cavolo nero, too.

It was loosely inspired by Italian anchovy and caper combination, and by our great love of pesto!


This is a pretty flexible recipe, and I’m giving he quantities more as guidelines than gospel! If you like it nuttier and creamier, add more pine nuts. If you want it herbier, more basil. The consistency will depend on how much olive oil you put in, etc. You can also omit the chilli if you wish, but I like the little extra kick.

This sauce takes no time to make, and it’s a fantastic weekly dinner. WHB 4 years.jpg

This week I’m hosting WHB, and this is my entry: broccoli and basil pesto with capers and anchovies pasta!




.This is the photo from the current header, btw:



broccoli and basil pesto with capers

 and anchovies pasta!


SOURCE:  Own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: 10 – 15 min (depending on pasta)

CUISINE: Italian-inspired




For the pesto:

A good handful of basil

a pinch of coarse sea salt

2 – 3 tbsp pine nuts

1 small garlic clove (optional)

1 small red chilli

1 tbsp capers

1 – 2 anchovies

extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta:

1/2 head of large broccoli (or more if you really like broccoli!)

enough pasta for two



1. Boil a large pot of water and add pasta. I put a Chinese steamer on top of the same pot and the broccoli in it, but you can cook the broccoli as you prefer – in another pot, in the microwave, etc.

2. While the pasta and the broccoli is cooking, I make my pesto. Toast the pine nuts in a medium hot pan until they start getting a little oily and golden, tossing them in the pan, or stirring. Watch them, they burn easily. When they’re done, take them out of the pan and put them in a bowl. This is important, they’ll burn if you leave them in the pan while you get a start with the basil.

3. Put the salt and the basil in your pestle and mortar if you’re using one (the coarse salt helps crush the basil, but it’s not essential, of course). Make a paste out of the basil, and then add the other ingredients, one by one. Add the capers and the anchovies towards the end, so you can adjust quantities, and add more if you wish. Olive oil comes last – add as much as you want to achieve a desired consistency.

4. Toss the pasta with the pesto, and then mix in the broccoli. Enjoy!

Digg This

The Best of Aubergines: Italian Parmigiana

Sicilian dish parmigiana is one of my favourite dishes, if not the favourite dish, starring one of my favourite  vegetables – the aubergine! With its layers of soft, smoky aubergine that melts in the mouth, slices of mozzarella and tomato sauce, parmigiana is an absolute star dish! Simple, yet stunning, and showcasing the best of the seasonal ingredients, this is my entry for Eating with the Seasons: September. I know, I know, I’ve already cooked with aubergine for Eating with the Seasons, but hey – aubergine is in season! 😀

My parmigiana is very simple, with few ingredients, and this is just the way I like it. I grill my aubergines (hence the smokiness from the previous paragraph), rather than fry them, which is traditional; I use a simple tomato sauce, with a touch of fresh basil. That’s it. That’s my secret. Not that you need many secrets with a combination of flavours as perfect as this.


Parmigiana with




SOURCE: Can’t remember. My variation of a few versions


COOKING TIME: about 1 h

CUISINE: Italian (Sicilian)

SERVES: 3 – 4



I. For grilled aubergines

1 large aubergine

a little olive oil

salt and pepper

II. For the tomato sauce

a little olive oil

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tin tomatoes (I like the Napolina brand), or 400 g fresh tomatoes

a pinch of sugar

a handful of fresh basil

III. Cheese

1 packet of mozzarella, sliced

some grated parmesan for topping





I. Grilled Aubergines

  • Cut the aubergines into either round slices, or diagonally. (Round is prettier!)
  • Season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Try and use a brush here. It really makes your life easier, and the aubergines drink up less oil.
  • Grill the aubergine slices until soft and golden on both sides.

II. Tomato sauce

  • While the aubergines are cooking on the grill, gently cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. (I sometimes skip the onion, and use only garlic)
  • Add the tomatoes, a small pinch of sugar and the seasoning, and cook for 5 – 10 min for a fresh-tasting tomato sauce, or longer if you prefer a richer tomatoey flavour.
  • Just before assembling the dish, put in a handful of fresh basil into the sauce and stir.

III. Assembling the dish

  • Put a layer of grilled aubergines at the bottom of a heatproof dish, top with mozzarella, and then tomato sauce. (I use an oval ceramic Le Creuset 24 cm baking dish for this purpose, which has the capacity of 1.1l.) Continue like this until you run out of aubergines, finishing off with a layer of mozzarella, sprinkled with parmesan on top.
  • Bake on 200 C or so for about 20 – 30 min, or until the top is nicely golden, and the cheese melted.

Serve with a salad and some garlic bread to mop up the juices.  


Other aubergine recipes at Maninas:

Ajvar – aubergine and red pepper relish V

This lovely relish is probably the most popular condiment of the former Yugoslavia.

Indian Aubergine Pate – Baigan Bharta  


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