Monday, March 28, 2011

Tomato and Olive Penne

picture from


  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound penne or other short pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 2/3 pound (2 cups) cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook penne according to package instructions until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring, until tomato juices run, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add penne, olives, parsley, and 1/4 cup Parmesan to the skillet and toss to combine. Serve with more cheese if desired.           

Prepped and ready to eat in under an hour, the tomato and olive penne is yet another great dinner, thanks to Martha!  This pasta dish pairs nicely with a fresh salad, garlic bread and a glass of good wine.  I think the flavor is mild enough for children to tolerate and yet it has enough sophistication for the adults to savor.   

Before cooking dinner, I planted more seeds for my vegetable/herb garden.  I made sure to plant plenty of parsley because it is a hot commodity around here.  As I’m writing this blog, it occured to me that I really don’t know anything about this herb.  Let’s find out more about parsley.


Parsley has been used since the Roman times for garnishing and flavoring food.  In medieval times, people believed that you could kill your enemy by speaking their name while plucking a parsley sprig.  Wow, if it were only that easy?  No, I’m only kidding… that would be too mean. 

Three types of parsley exist: curly, flat leaf (Italian) and parsnip rooted (Hamburg) and each variety has its own niche.  For instance, curly parsley is more often used as a garnish, whereas; Italian parsley is used for cooking.

Parsley serves a dual purpose (as most herbs do).  Not only does it taste good in our food, but it offers up some medicinal properties.  I am very interested in herbal medicine, as the passion runs deep within me.  I have always felt such a strong connection to the earth beneath my feet.  Since childhood I have known that our medicine chest is sprouting from the ground and not elsewhere- ideally anyway.  After attending the herb convention at the Ohlone Center for Herbal Medicine in Berkeley, I've been even more fascinated by the medicinal properties that plants posess. 

It turns out that as far back as Hippocrates parsley has been used as a cure-all.  Parsley has been used to treat kidney stones, bladder stones, has anti-rheumatic properties, treats urinary problems, bronchitis, lowers blood pressure, alleviates menstrual discomfort, and improves allergies and asthma.  Wow! Is that it?  I think I named everything that I came across, but I'm sure there is more.  So, the next time that you grab a bundle of parsley think about throwing a few springs into your morning smoothie or tossing some parsley into your salad.  With all of these health benefits, who would want to miss out?  Certainly not me!

Photo Gallery

Organic pasta...avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as much as possible.  The ONLY way to do is to purchase organic products. 

It's grapefruit season everyone!  I have two trees out back and I had to stop for a quick pick me up.  Yum!
While waiting for water to boil, I enjoyed my grapefruit.  
Still waiting for the water to boil...gosh it takes a long time to boil...especially when you are not being patient. I supposed to learn something? *smiles*
Not tomato season yet, so going for the canned substitute. 
The fire roasted good!
The Italian parsley.
Yay, the pasta is finished.
Cooking the tomatoes with the spices.
Tossing the pasta and sauce.
Next, in goes the cheese, olives and parsley.
Mix it up...
And you get happy, well-fed kids.

~Dinner Was Served~

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bellisimo tu pasta! Fractured Italian for your pasta is beautiful. When I make a pasta sauce I usually add the following, in careful proportions: Basil (dried or fresh, or a little pesto), oregano or marjoram, a touch of thyme, salt and pepper, a little sugar, sauteed onions, and lightly sauteed garlic (generous). And, of course, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano after the sauce is ladled over the al dente pasta, always al dente, or you insult your imaginary Italian guests with your obtuse insensitivity with your flabby, overcooked pasta.

The worst pasta sauce I have ever tasted was at Strings restaurant where chili peppers were added to the sauce, by an obviously Mexican cook in the back of the house. What? Chili peppers in pasta? I sent it back and walked out of the place, never to return.

Your pasta dish here looks wonderful, as always. How could your kids not love that?