Thanks to so many of you who have actually tried the Lentil Rice Casserole that I posted last week and for all the comments on it. It's amazing that such a humble dish created such a stir! I hope you enjoyed it and will continue to make it and experiment with it.
This week, we are leaving rice and heading toward pasta. I know fish is 'allowed' on Fridays, but I'm sticking with vegetarian dishes simply because there are some who don't care for fish, huh, Anke?
I found this recipe in the very first issue of Everyday Food, one of Martha's magazines. My copy of it is now falling apart and food-stained because I found so many recipes in there that we liked. One of the favorites is an easy one to make and can be made in about thirty minutes. Can it get any better than that?
Variations on the original:
- Even though it calls for kalamata olives, feel free to substitute any olive that you like, or even to serve them on the side, or live on the edge and use capers. Not many in my family like Kalamatas (personally, I don't understand how you can't like them!) so I usually just put a small bowl on the table to serve more as a garnish than as part of the dish.
- Also, the recipe calls for penne pasta, but again, feel free to use any short pasta you have on hand. This isn't rocket science … it's only kitchen chemistry and there will be no explosions if you use a different pasta! Another option is to use whole wheat pasta, rice pasta, spinach pasta, … the variations are endless with the selection in our grocery stores now. I also cook up a bit of Emily's favorite corn pasta, as well, since she is allergic to wheat.
- This is not a variation, but a kitchen tip … if you buy unpitted olives, the easiest way to pit them is to put them on your cutting board, lay the broad side of a large chef's knife on one olive at a time, then hit the knife with the palm of your hand. The olive will burst open and the pit will come out easily. The recipe only calls for ¼ cup of them, so this shouldn't take too long.
Tomato and Olive Penne—serves 4 (I always double for my family!)
- 1 pound penne or other short pasta
- ¼ c. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2/3 pound cherry tomatoes (2 Cups), halved or quartered
- 1 t. dried oregano
- ¼ t. crushed red pepper (optional)
- ¼ c. Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- ¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne according to package instructions until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 1 minute—do NOT let it get too brown as it will turn bitter. Add the cherry tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper, ½ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until tomato juices run, about 3 minutes.
Add the penne, olives, parsley, and ¼ c. Parmesan to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve with more cheese, if desired.
I serve this in a large pasta bowl and usually serve a green salad and maybe some 'crunchy bread' with it. Another great addition would be steamed asparagus or green peas/beans.