Sometimes odd ingredients, snagged in a whim off a grocery store shelf, take up prolonged residence in the home cupboard for weeks, months, or (in my house) years. I know this is true. Once I heard Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor refer to water chestnuts purchased in such moments, and consumed only by house-bound Minnesotans during prolonged blizzards. Yes, on the very night I heard his monologue, I noticed my own resident water chestnuts. I also have a 1/2-decade old jar of pureed, roasted eggplant, a jar of Thai peanut sauce, a jar of curried corn relish, a package of miso soup…well my list could continue, but you get the idea.

So if you have a jar of Calamata olives and a package of pine nuts which you no longer recall why you bought, I have the recipe for you. It’s a pasta recipe, and it is so good that I am entering it in the food-blogging event: Vegetables, Beautiful Vegetables 2008.

Of course, you’ll need a few other ingredients to make it, but not many. As long as your olives are already pitted, the recipe is easy and fairly quick to make. I got the recipe from my mom. She didn’t make it often because back-in-the-day she had to de-pit the olives. Once she gave me that job, and I learned the first secret of a top chef: delegate the prep-work.

So here’s the recipe for Pasta with Olives and Tomatoes:

  • 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine or pressed
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 25 Greek olives, chopped (I buy Calamata, pitted olives)
  • sprigs of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (or 1 cube) of chicken or vegetable bouillon dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced

While cooking enough angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta for 3-4 people, heat olive oil in a skillet. To the heated oil, add garlic, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes. Saute a few minutes. Add basil, broth, salt and pepper. Cook about 1-2 minutes. Add olives. Drain pasta. Turn off heat under skillet and add the tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes in the skillet mixture to warm them up. Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve.

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