Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Pasta

This is an incredibly late submission for a recent recipe swap for Fourth of July inspired meals. 

When I saw this recipe from Melissa was my assignment, I was excited to make something deemed "Sicilian."  my grandfather, while born in America, was Sicilian, and I don't know a whole lot about it, other than that could be where my temper comes from.  I was late in making this for my own slacker reasons, but it's been delayed so much because of my grandmother's passing; losing her has made me think a lot about when my grandfather passed.  So, even though Mom Mom's family was from northern Italy, I felt I was honoring her by making this dish from her beloved husband's heritage.

This is probably the first recipe that I've really made some changes to in order to make this my own.  I typically don't have anchovies around, and didn't really feel like getting some when I had an idea of something that would be a good substitute.  I chose to use some kalamata olives instead; I definitely used too many and so the sauce was a bit too salty.  My basil plants are going crazy, so I threw some of that into the sauce too.  I figure a sauce can't be too garlicky, so added some of that with the onions. 

My finished product came out pretty well.  I do wish I'd added some broccoli as instructed, so maybe next time.  The great thing about this recipe is that it has some interesting textures--you've got the crunch of the nuts, the squish of the raisins, and the softer textures of the tomatoes and pasta.

Ha, I just remembered I meant to add cooked chicken to this.  Oops!

Thank you, Melissa, for a great starting point recipe!

Dad's Sicilian Summer Pasta, adapted from I Was Born to Cook
1 pound penne
2-3T extra virgin olive oil
5-10 kalamata olives, drained, pitted, and finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5-10 basil leaves, chopped
1T Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pignoli nuts
1 cup raisins, soaked first in water or liquor (rum, vodka)
1/2 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

Cook pasta until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  

While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, cook the olives in the oil until fragrant, then add the onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent.  Add the tomatoes, pignoli nuts and raisins.

Cook all ingredients for a few minutes, then add crushed tomatoes, basil, and spices.  Stir until combined, and simmer for a few minutes, until desired consistency.  Add pasta to skillet, combine and cook for a few minutes on low.  Top with grated cheese and serve.

This dish can be served immediately or at room temperature.

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