Pasta with artichokes, tomatoes and black olives is a Lenten “gem”


Jeanne Scarpato photo

Artichokes and olives of all kinds are such favorites in our house that you’ll always find cans and jars filled with them in the pantry.

My brother Pete especially enjoys jars of artichokes in oil and likes them as “sides” when we have a pasta dinner. For this recipe though, I turned to canned artichokes because the dish calls for sauteeing everything in oil.

This is a nice, light pasta dish and perfect for Lent. It cooks up quickly and mixes a blend textures and flavors that is really pleasant to the palate. You could make it with your favorite pasta. For this recipe, I used one of my favorite pastas, gemelli, which, because two strands of pasta are twisted together, translates as twins.

The resulting pasta is a little bigger than bite sized and very delightful when mixed with any version of what I call a quick, “scratch” sauce. Scratch, in this case, means “made from scratch” and is usually composed of whatever we have on hand.

Since today is my late grandfather’s birthday and since no one enjoyed “scratch pasta” more than this Englishman did, I’m naming it after him — Pasta ala Norman

Ingredients: 12 ounces pasta of your choice cooked according to package directions; olive oil or canola oil; 1/2 medium seet onion, thinkly chopped; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 can good artichoke hearts (I like the Cento brand) with any tough leaves picked off; 1/2 cup pitted black or calamata olives, halved; 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved; 1/4 cup Romano cheese and extra for topping.

Directions: Cook the pasta according to directions and reserve 1 cup of pasta water; in a large skillet, heat enough oil to cover the bottom over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and salt and pepper to taste, stir until garlic and onions start to turn golden, then add the pasta water and stir while cooking for about 3 minutes. Then add the artichokes and stir for about 3 minutes and add the tomatoes. Stir while cooking until the tomatoes start to break down. Add cheese and stir again. Serve in a large pasta bowl with additional cheese on the side.

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