Mediterranean Pasta

One of the ways I commonly cook is to make what Jon calls “pasta concoctions”. Sometimes these turn out really well and end up on the menu, and other times…

A more successful pasta concoction is what we call Mediterranean Pasta, which is basically a tomato sauce with olives, artichoke hearts, and lots of other yummy vegetables.

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Although there are a fair number of ingredients in this recipe, it is quite easy to make. I started off by sautéing most of the veggies along with turmeric and tomato paste until everything is slightly softened and flavorful.

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While the veggies are cooking, I chopped up the artichoke hearts and cut the olives in half.

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I then finished adding the other ingredients to the sauce, including vegetable broth, tomatoes, and red wine vinegar. After everything was combined, I covered the sauce to simmer for a few minutes.

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This sauce tastes fairly rich because of the olives, so I like to serve it with a simple salad.

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By the time the pasta is done cooking, the sauce has simmered long enough to thicken slightly and meld all the flavors together. I used rigatoni, but you could use any larger pasta shape such as penne or rotini. I love pictures of pasta. 🙂

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Next I mixed all the pasta into the sauce, hoping my pan was large enough to hold it all! Make sure to save a little bit of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce.

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Finally, I dished the pasta into bowls and topped with a few red pepper flakes.

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Mediterranean Pasta

1 lb Rigatoni, cooked al dente
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, miced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
8-12 ounces pitted olives (Greek mix, kalamata, or similar), sliced in half
4 artichoke hearts, quartered
10 peppadew peppers, finely diced
5-6 sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced (I prefer the vacuum packed ones rather than the ones packed in oil)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed or diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp red pepper flakes plus more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the water for your pasta.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, then add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until softened. Do not allow the garlic to brown. 

Add the diced peppers and peppadew peppers, and sauté for a few minutes, flavoring with salt and freshly ground pepper. After the peppers are slightly softened, add the turmeric and tomato paste. Sauté for a few minutes to release the flavors of the turmeric.

Next, add the veggie stock and red wine vinegar. After the sauce is simmering, add the sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook until softened. 

Stir in the diced or crushed tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, red pepper flakes, and more salt and pepper if needed. Cover and reduce heat to medium. The pasta water should be boiling by now. Salt the water well, and cook the rigatoni until al dente. It will cook for a minute in the sauce, so you don’t want to overlook the pasta in the water.

Allow the sauce to simmer while the pasta is cooking. When the pasta is done, taste the sauce to adjust seasoning, then add the drained pasta along with about 3 Tbsp of the pasta cooking water. Stir to combine, and allow the pasta to cook in the sauce for another minute or two. 

Serve in pasta bowls topped with additional red pepper flakes, if desired. If you aren’t eating vegan, it would also be really good topped with a little bit of crumbled feta or tangy goat cheese. Since the sauce is rich, it is nice to have a simple salad on the side.

Serves 6-8.

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Mediterranean Pasta with Olive and Artichokes

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This dish is a great variation on traditional tomato sauce, and includes juicy artichoke hearts and salty olives. I started off by sautéing onions and garlic until they were slightly caramelized, adding in yellow pepper slices to saute with the onion. Then i deglazed the pan with some white wine, followed by diced tomatoes. This all simmered together for a few minutes, and then i added the quartered artichoke hearts, halved kalamata olives, a little red wine vinegar, thyme, oregano, and some miso paste.

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Miso paste isn’t exactly a common addition in Mediterranean style pasta dishes, but I think it really added some interesting depth to the sauce. Of course, it could be left out if you don’t have any.

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Once the sauce had simmered for a few more minutes, I mixed in some whole wheat penne to absorb some of the sauce.

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The sauce was rich and flavorful, with the artichoke hearts and the penne absorbing some of the liquid, and the olives providing briny bursts of flavor throughout. Yum!

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Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes and Olives
6 ounces whole wheat penne, cooked al dente
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 ounces kalamata olives, pitted and halved
5 artichoke hearts (1 can), drained and quartered
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 yellow or red pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine
Red wine vinegar to taste
2 tsp dried thyme
1.5 tsp dried Greek oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp mellow white miso paste (optional)

Sauté the onion in a small amount of olive oil and kosher salt until softened and slightly caramelized. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add in the yellow pepper slices. Cook until slightly softened, then deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Add in the diced tomatoes, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, thyme, artichoke hearts, olives, and miso paste (if using).

Stir gently to combine, being sure not to crush the artichoke hearts. If using the miso paste, be sure it is completely dissolved in the sauce. Cover and simmer until the sauce cooks down slightly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix in the cooked pasta and heat through. Delicious without a topping, but can also be topped with some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.