Pasta · Quick Meals

rigatoni and the last tomatoes

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It is 29℃ in Alexandria right now (or 84℉ to locals). I know, since I’ve been living here for almost 10 years, you may think that I should be using Fahrenheit by now. But when I was an exchange student in Michigan a billion years ago, there was already talk about adopting the metric system. So I’ll keep on waiting.  This heat is quite unseasonal for late October around here. I’m not complaining – I am from Brazil after all. But today my brain can’t think pumpkins. All I want to do is to use the last tomatoes from our garden that are staring at me in the counter.

I was in a pinch: I had about 15 minutes to make dinner while Mateus talked to me trying to strike a deal about homework, Julia painted and Cecilia cruised between my legs. I still needed to get dressed and wait for Romas to get home at 18:00 so that I could leave at 18:01 and hand over the fort and the kiddos. I was dying to get out for a night of theater with girlfriends in the city. Think simple, fast. Rigatoni. Olives, feta, herbs. And tomatoes. Better yet – and you should take my advice and make yourself some – I had left over tomato sauce that I used for pizzas the other night and I could use it with the fresh tomatoes. This is the tomato sauce my sister-in-law Kristina prepares when she makes pizza. It is simple, flavorful and the kids love it.

I gobbled a few bites on my way out the door and asked for the family’s input.  Mateus shouted: “It is blog worthy, Mom!”. It put a smile to my face until I remembered that I forgot to use the fresh tomatoes that I had planned this meal around to start with. Tell me, you also do that all the time, don’t you? Oh, well, I’ll use them to revamp the leftovers a couple of meals from now.

RIGATONI WITH TOMATO SAUCE, FETA AND OLIVES

Serves 4 – 6

For Kris’ tomato sauce:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

10 small garlic cloves or 5 large ones, minced

1/4 cup of chopped basil, lightly packed

28oz can of plum tomatoes (she uses San Marzano whole tomatoes and chops them)

salt and pepper to taste

To assemble the pasta:

1 Lbs of rigatoni pasta (check)

1 1/2 cup of Kris’ tomato sauce

1 large tomato, chopped

3/4 cup of pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

fresh oregano (leaves of 3 sprigs)

pepper to taste

olive oil to taste

Directions:

Make Kris’ tomato sauce:

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Sauté basil for another 2 minutes or until fragrant (watch closely or garlic will burn). Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is achieved.

To assemble pasta:

Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain it and reserve 1/4 cup of water. In a large bowl, toss pasta, tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes, adding water by tablespoons as needed, to create a smooth sauce. Add olives and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle oregano leaves and add pepper to taste.

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