Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tortellini with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce, Toasted Pine Nuts, & Golden Tomatoes for Food 'N Flix June: 'Moonstruck'

Where does the month go? It's time again for Food 'N Flix--time to cook a dish inspired by a movie. Our selection for June, hosted by my friend Debra of Eliot's Eats, is the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck starring Cher, along with Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, and Vincent Gardenia. 

"La bella luna! The moon brings the woman to the man. Capice?
Cher plays Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian bookkeeper from Brooklyn whose husband was killed in a bus accident several years earlier. (Loretta believes her first marriage was cursed because they got married at City Hall instead of doing it right at the church.) She decides to make a safe choice and marry Johnny, a nice, mild-mannered friend of her late husband even though she really isn't in love with him. When Johnny goes to Italy to see his dying mother, Loretta meets his estranged younger brother Ronny and on the night of a huge, glorious full moon, she begins to feel passion and feelings for Ronny that are missing from her relationship with Johnny.

I had not seen this movie in years and was happy to find it conveniently playing on HBO all this month so I set my DVR to record it and then sat down for trip back to visit 80's Cher and Nic Cage. I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed it--I am a serious repeat movie watcher when I like/love a movie and the fact that I never made an effort to watch this one again led me to think I must not have been impressed. But, it is funny, sweet, a bit quirky, and you can see why Cher won the Oscar for her performance and the always delightful Olympia Dukakis won best supporting actress for her role. 

Of course there is plenty of Italian food inspiration in this movie--minestrone soup, pasta, bread, steak, and a simple breakfast of eggs-in-the-hole with roasted red peppers that Loretta's mother makes to share with her. In the end, I found my inspiration in a Nigel Slater recipe sketch from Notes From the Larder--a simple but unique little pasta sauce with some of my favorite ingredients in it. Not at all from from the movie but I figure the slightly sharp and tart sauce represents Loretta, while Nicolas Cage's character Ronny is a little nuts, so the pine nuts are for him, and finally, the baby orange tomatoes I added to Slater's dish represent the big old full moon that inspires such passion. (But mostly I made this dish because I really just wanted to try it!) ;-)  

Tortellini with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce, Toasted Pine Nuts, & Golden Tomatoes
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Notes From the Larder
(Serves 2)

Nigel says, "First, dinner. Basil leaves, a good couple of handfuls, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of capers, pureed with enough olive oil to make a thick pouring consistency. Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream and some salt and pepper, then toss with a bowl of cooked cappelletti. Pine nuts, toasted in a nonstick pan, get chucked on top after the pasta and sauce have met."  

(Note: I added extra capers and local sweet orange baby tomatoes and, unable to find cappelletti "little hats" in my neck of the woods island, I used a similarly stuffed pasta--a basil and Parmesan fresh tortellini.) 

Notes/Results: Such a great quick pasta sauce and a dish with lots of flavor--it's like a creamy pesto with a slight tangy, briny edge. I liked how the sharper elements--the basil, capers (I doubled the amount), mustard and white wine vinegar were mellowed by the cream. Definitely a dish I wanted more of. Using fresh pasta, it took less than 15 minutes to make--most of that boiling the pasta water. The sweetness of the little Kahuku Golden tomatoes was a nice contrast to the sauce and the buttery, nutty toasted pine nuts added a good touch of crunch. Since the tortellini I used was stuffed with basil and Parmesan, I didn't feel like it needed any additional cheese but you certainly could grate some in if you wanted to. I really liked the sauce and will definitely make this again.

In addition to Food 'N Flix, this pasta is doing double-duty at I Heart Cooking Clubs where our theme this week is Mediterranean Magic. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is tomorrow, Friday, June 27th and Debra will be rounding up the entries on her blog soon after. If you missed out on Moonstruck and love food, films and foodie films, come join us for July when we will be watching and cooking from one of my favorite foodie movies, Like Water for Chocolate, hosted by Elizabeth at The Law Student's Cookbook.    



  1. Pesto is my favorite at this time of year! Love this pasta dish. Feels like summer!

  2. So many delicious mediterranean pasta dishes this week. Seems, I have to go another way ;-)

  3. I've made note of next month's film - one of my favorites! I will definitely be joining! Also, I have a salad up today for Souper Sunday!

  4. Hey, Deb. Just got Delicious delivered to my door. Thank you, friend! I love the flavors of this sauce and the simplicity and versatility of it. Really outstanding FnF post! (Ronnie is a bit nutty.)

  5. And, round-up should be up tomorrow evening.

  6. Looks like capers are in the lead this week--I used them too! Your pasta looks like summer on a plate. Love the way the tomatoes look studded throughout the pasta.

  7. Gluten Free A-Z BlogJune 28, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    You had me at the pesto and pine nuts. I made a batch of pesto yesterday and have been eating it on everything. Moonstruck is one of my favorite movies. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  8. This is a great choice for the movie AND a nice Nigel recipe too. I haven't been able to find a wheat free tortellini yet but will try this recipe. Love the colors of the tomatoes and capers against the pasta

  9. That looks delicious! It sounds like the pesto (without the cream) would make an excellent dressing for roasted vegetables or salad.

  10. I've seen little snippets of Moonstruck but never watched the whole movie. I need to sit down and watch it one of these days. There is something so comforting about a creamy pasta dish. Love that you added the orange cherry tomatoes to resemble the moon. That's some good thinking, Deb ;-)

  11. This pasta looks scrumptious!!!

  12. G'day Your dish looks delish! Congrats for completing the Food 'n Flix challenge too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. Oh, yes please. This looks wonderfully delicious.


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