What’s cooking? August is National Olive Month.

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I call this Antipasto-Pasta. Inspired by the olive bar at the local deli. So there I was at that antipasto bar wondering… what can I do with this? “Antipasto Pasta!” Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pickled red peppers, onions, garlic, olives and fresh parsley. Simmering and swaying waiting for a dose of Pesto #5.  (Pesto with 2 kinds of basil, walnuts, sundried tomatos, olive oil, garlic)

Wine:  Monte Antico Toscanna 2006.

This dish goes together fast if you do your prep work in advance. Most of the ingredients are already in your fridge or pantry.  Don’t you love a well stocked kitchen when you can just reach for what you need? Add your fresh ingredients and viola! I also nurture my herb garden all year long so I can just run out and snip what I need.

My Dad always made sure our dinner plates were colorful… either a needing something green, or a burst of colorful veggies, Mom made sure we had a salad.  For this, I plated a beautiful cantaloupe and strawberry salad and some freshly steamed flat green beans to balance the herby, salty pasta. No need to add any salt to this preparation, the antipasto and Parmesan gives you all you need.

Do you cook for the love? What makes a “Good Fix” for you?

Antipasto Pasta 
Serves 4
Ingredients
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup  Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
10 Kalamata Olives
10 Grape Tomatoes, halved
3 tbs fresh Italian Parsley
2 tsp fresh Oregano
2 tsp fresh Sweet Marjoram
2 tsp fresh Basil
1/4 cup  Pesto #5 (a new recipe, let me know if you want this one too!)

1/2 cup Fresh Parmesan, grated
3 Sweet Red Cherry Peppers, seeds removed julienned
Black Pepper to taste

Penne Pasta (8-11 oz)

Put your pasta water on before you start slicing and dicing, by the time it is boiling you will be ready to start cooking! You know the timing is right when the penne is al dente and your saute is ready to assemble.

Saute your onions and garlic in about 2 TBS olive oil over med heat to soften. Add the sliced mushrooms cook another 3-5 min then add artichokes (if the hearts are big, cut in half so they distribute well in the pasta) and olives. Toss lightly these don’t need to cook, just warm through.
Sprinkle in your chopped herbs.

Drain your pasta, save a bit of the pasta water to add to skillet. Add pasta to skillet and toss with your antipasto ingredients to finish cooking.  Add about 1/4 C of the pasta water,  continue cooking to absorb and add your grape tomatoes and sweet cherry peppers (these have a nice crisp, bright flavor and if you saute them too long they loose their “umph!”) take off heat. Toss with the Pesto #5, your Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper and you are ready to plate!

You will probably want to have more Parm to sprinkle on the top of each serving, I know I do!

This night I also include some very fun olives from the olive bar for variety on the side. These had pits, so you need a small dish to collect those… don’t want them rolling around your plate now do you?

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