Rigatoni with Spicy Sicilian Pesto

Rigatoni with Spicy Sicilian Pesto

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  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed, washed and spun dry
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 serrano chili, stems and seeds removed
  • 1/2 tbsp hot red pepper flake
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp sliced blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup evoo
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Pecorino Romano (the recipe actually calls for Pecorino Siciliano), plus 2 tbsp (optional), for garnish


Place the basil, mint, garlic, Serrano chilis, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and almonds in a food processor and pulse 3 times to start the chopping process. Add the evoo and lemon juice and pulse 4 or 5 times to create a thick paste, (not a thin oily sauce). Add 2 tbsp cheese and pulse once to mix in, season to taste with salt, more lemon juice, etc. Set aside. (Note - If you want to save the pesto and use it later or plan on making extra, transfer the pesto to a container with a tight-fitting lid, pour 2 tbsp more evoo over the top, cover with the lid and refrigerate. This pesto will hold in the fridge like this for 2 weeks.)
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions (until just al dente ). Drain the pasta quickly and lazily - you want the pasta water to still be clinging to the pasta. Return to the pot and add the pesto. Toss to coat. Serve pasta with additional grated cheese, if desired.