Thursday, August 14, 2008

Penne "alla Greca"

This is a wonderful pasta dish to make in the summer because it involves very little actual heating. Besides that, it's super-simple and soooooo good! Though the classic tomato sauce with vegetables will always be my favorite pasta dish, this one is definitely in the running for second place.

For one person, you will need:
75 g of penne or other short pasta
25-50 g of feta
10-12 cherry tomatoes
Half a medium-sized red bell pepper
One small red onion
A handful of kalamata olives
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt & pepper
Dill (fresh is better, but dried is easier to find and it works just fine)
Mint (same as for the dill)

In the version pictured here, I didn't have any dill or mint on hand (this is from when I was Italy and dill is almost impossible to find there), so I used some fresh parsley which also worked nicely

Set some water to boil in a large pot. While you're waiting for the water to boil, chop the cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters if they're very large, and dice the pepper and the onion. Combine the cherry tomatoes with the pepper and onion in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill, and mint, stir everything up, and then let sit.

Once the water has come to a boil, salt it, and add the penne. Then, pit the olives by crushing them under the flat side of a knife and chop them in half.

You should let the penne cook just until they are al dente, i.e., 'to the tooth', i.e., cooked through but still chewy and somewhat resistant to your teeth when you bite into them. Though with enough experience cooking various types of pasta, you can usually make a pretty good guess as to when the pasta has cooked just the right amount, the most foolproof way to get good al dente pasta is simply to test every so often by fishing one out and munching on it!

Once the penne are done, drain them, and then mix them into the pepper-onion-cherry tomato mix*. Add the olives, crumble the feta over everything and enjoy!

*If it's a really hot day, this pasta also works wonderfully well served cold - just run some cold water over the penne immediately after you drain them. I usually don't do this, but that's because I love the way the feta just melts in your mouth after it's come into contact with the warm pasta...

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