Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies

Sicilian Almond and Anchovy Pasta

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies is a simply lush 30 minute meal that typifies the healthy Mediterranean diet…and please don’t tell me you don’t like anchovies — just hold that thought until the end of the post ๐Ÿ™‚

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies is a lightening fast 30 minute meal made from pantry staples!

We’re going on an inexpensive dinner kick these days. Doing my taxes reminded me of how much we (I) spend on groceries and it’s ridiculous. I know I can cut it down, and this pasta is a great example of how to do it. It relies on pantry staples so you don’t have to visit the grocery store, and not visiting the grocery store means no unplanned ‘extras’ — the chips, the gorgeous raspberries, the magazine, it all ads up! This Sicilian pasta with almonds and anchovies is healthy AND saves you lots of $$. I’m also always on the lookout for meatless meals, and even though this contains a few anchovies for flavor, I consider this to be in that category.

Sicilian Almond and Anchovy Pasta

Basically we’re talking about a pesto here, but not pesto alla genovese, which is the classic basil sauce we’re used to. Pesto is a concept that can be elaborated on in lots of delicious directions. This sauce is made by crushing almonds, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, some basil, hot red peppers, green olives, and Parmesan cheese. It’s loosened up with good extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with pepper. This recipe makes a large amount of pesto, and I used almost all of it on the pasta. The more you add, the more satisfying the meal. Just when you think you’ve added enough, add a little more, the pasta seems to almost absorb it, and  it gets richer as you go. I reserve a little of the pasta cooking liquid for reheating the next day. The garnish of bright green baby basil leaves freshens up this rustic dish. For even more color scatter on a few halved cherry tomatoes.

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies is a quick 30 minute meal with tons of Mediterranean flavor!

As for anchovies, they are used in countless sauces, condiments, and familiar dishes, you are probably eating them all the time without even knowing it. If you love Korean, Vietnamese or Thai food, you’ve had ’em. If you have a bottle of Worcestershire sauce in your fridge, you’ve had ’em, and if you order a great Caesar salad when you eat out, you’ve had ’em and loved ’em.  If whole anchovies don’t appeal to you I suggest buying anchovy paste, which is really convenient because you can add just a touch when you need it, and it keeps beautifully for a very long time in the fridge. I keep a tube of both anchovy and tomato paste in the door of my fridge at all times.

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies

The pesto doesn’t look like much in itself, above, but once it combines with the hot pasta it won’t matter ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sicilian Almond and Anchovy Pasta is a healthy and unusual 30 minute meal!

This recipe is slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes.

Sicilian Almond and Anchovy Pasta is a healthy and unusual 30 minute meal!
3.6 from 37 votes

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies

Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies is a simply lush 30 minute meal that typifies the healthy Mediterranean diet...and please don't tell me you don't like anchovies --- just hold that thought until the end of the post ๐Ÿ™‚
Course Dinner Recipes
Cuisine Italian
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup good grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup raw or roasted almonds
  • 12 roasted garlic cloves or 3 raw cloves
  • 2 red chili peppers stemmed and rough chopped, seeds and all (I used red jalapenos)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp anchovy paste or 4 whole anchovies
  • 1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes
  • a big handful pitted green olives
  • olive oil


  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • baby basil leaves
  • a few olives rough chopped
  • fresh cracked black pepper


  • Cook the pasta just shy of the package time, you want it to be al dente.
  • Meanwhile put the cheese, almonds, garlic, peppers, basil and anchovies into a food processor and pulse until well combined, about 20 pulses.
  • Add the tomatoes and olives and continue pulsing until everything looks evenly chopped, about another 20 pulses.
  • Add a 'glug' of olive oil and pulse once or twice more. You should have a nice, loose pesto now. Taste it and add some salt and pepper.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with lots of the pesto. You may not need all of it.
  • Serve nice and hot, garnished with more cheese, baby basil leaves, a few more rough chopped olives, and lots of fresh cracked pepper.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • If you’re cooking for one or two you can store the pesto in a jar in the fridge and use it as you need it. It will keep at least a week, tightly covered.
  • I use a Mezzi Rigatoni, which I like because of its smaller size. It doesn’t overpower the simple pesto.
  • Black olives would be nice, too, if you don’t like green.
  • Don’t skip the anchovies…they add a unique special something to the flavor that nothing else can.



Don’t forget to pin this Sicilian Pasta with Almonds and Anchovies!

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    D. Davidson
    January 4, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    5 stars
    Loved it! Great dish. The only substitution I used was green chili peppers instead of red since my market didn’t have red. But still had a nice little heat. My wife loved loved it! We have enough for another meal or two, made the whole lb., and I had a small bit of the pesto left over. Didn’t want to smother it too much, was enough. It was a little vague how to use the pasta water, but I used about half of it to moisten it up when I mixed the pesto with the pasta (say that ten times fast!) and also a “glug” of olive oil was a little hard to define. Next time I will add a glug and a half ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks again for a great dish, will keep it in the rotation for sure.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    This was so tasty! Perfect quick meal.

    Instead of the olives and basil I tossed some spinach and arugula I had in my fridge that needed using up. Topped with more grated Parm of course ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      June 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Thank YOU for the feedback! I love the idea of adding greens, arugula goes so well with hot pasta because it doesn’t immediately wilt down ~ delish!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    This sounds delicious, Sue! I always keep the same two tubes in my frig too ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a new pesto rendition to me and I love it!

  • Reply
    Jean |
    April 17, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Sue, this looks and sounds soooo good! I love that it uses almonds rather than classic pesto’s pine nuts — pine nuts are real budget busters! I, too, need to stop spending quite so much at the grocery store!

    • Reply
      April 17, 2016 at 8:51 am

      I think those %[email protected]# pine nuts were responsible for 80% of my grocery bill!!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Oh I love this pasta!! I love the anchovies and the fresh flavors. Great dish for the spring and summer…or anytime!! Catherine xo

  • Reply
    Nancy | Plus Ate Six
    April 16, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I ate something very similar to this in Sicily a couple of years back and it was absolutely stunning. Love fast and tasty meals like this and I best that pesto is great with grilled fish and chicken.

    • Reply
      April 16, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Great idea to pair it with chicken or fish, I’ll do that next time.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    April 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Lovely and 30 minute meals are always welcome here!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Sue, this looks like my dream pasta dish, love that it is only a 30 minute meal. Pinned.

    • Reply
      April 16, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      I rely on fish and pasta as my 30-minute staples ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Marla Meridith
    April 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I love anchovies & so do my kids! This pasta will be added to our weekend menu ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    April 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I’m all for a 30 minute meal that makes me dream of alfresco dining along the sea in Sicily! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 11:54 am

    lush is the perfect descriptor for this sauce ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I was never a fan of anchovies … until I learned that a little goes a long way … and they melt into a dish and build great body to the overall flavour. Now, I always have a tin handy. I prefer the whoole guys packed in oil … mmm! This IS a great pesto for pasta! Good work!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Jacques would love this..will make one looks really good.
    I adore pasta dishes.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    April 15, 2016 at 9:00 am

    This looks super amazing. I don’t like the way anchovies look but I LOVE the incredible flavor they add. I’m thrilled to have this recipe for those days when there’s “nothing to eat”. I’ll be sure to keep the ingredients in the pantry and I’m like you, I always have the anchovy paste in my deli drawer.

    • Reply
      April 15, 2016 at 9:28 am

      I prefer the paste because I feel the same way about the little guys, Chris ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 15, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I’m making a rigatoni recipe this weekend but I bet it won’t look like this! A fantastic post Sue – love the thought of keeping our expenses in check (especially with our unexpected kitchen renovation) and the meatless meals are always a plus. Thank you for bringing me outside the basil pesto box! LOVE, love, love this recipe!

  • Reply
    Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners
    April 15, 2016 at 8:45 am

    This dish is the kind of meals I strive to make on a regular basis. Full of fresh ingredients, easy, flavorful, quick and family friendly.. I’m always looking to cut costs on groceries too and with summer coming it’s going to be especially hard because I’m lured by the beauty of all the fresh, local produce. I wish I was one of those people who are so organized with their coupons that they actually pay nothing at the till. I need to figure that out!
    Crushing all over this deliciousness, Sue. Sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      April 15, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Thanks Robyn…I used to use coupons, but it was such a lot of work. The store I go to most doesn’t even take them…I think my best strategy is to keep the store visits to a minimum.

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