Dinner Tonight: 'Garbage Pail' Pasta

I stumbled on this recipe on the website of food writer Faith Willinger, who was recommended by Mario Batali on the Babbo restaurant website as a good source of intelligence on Italian food and restaurants.

I ended up falling in love with her website's little reminiscings about life in Italy, where's she's lived for close to three decades. And the one recipe she gives on her site is for "garbage pail pasta." I'm not sure if this is a commonly used title for this dish—the only thing it makes me think of is "garbage sandwich" or "garbage plate" or "garbage salad," wherein garbage refers to whatever leftovers are in the fridge and the the latter word the form those leftovers take before going down the hatch.

Who knows. Maybe because it's a pasta you could easily make with pantry goods lying around (it reminds me of pasta puttanesca in this way). But it's a really pleasant dish, with a mix of toasted nuts playing off the sweetness of the raisins—together giving it this sort of foraged feel—and the piquancy of chopped olives and capers. In the adaptation I've doubled the tomatoes but otherwise wouldn't change a thing.

Dinner Tonight: 'Garbage Pail' Pasta

About This Recipe

This recipe appears in: This Week in Recipes


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, about ten
  • 1 tablespoon. minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 to 6 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 8 ounces spaghetti


  1. 1

    Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, and drain.

  2. 2

    In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook the nuts until gently browned and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, capers, and oregano, and cook until the tomatoes wilt and break down, stirring occassionally. Add the olives, raisins, and half the parsley and season with a big pinch of salt, the continue cooking for a minute or two.

  3. 3

    Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss. Add a little pasta water and toss over low heat as the pasta melds with the sauce, removing from the heat before it gets too dry.

  4. 4

    Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and the remaining parsley.


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