Mediterranean style food helps me calm down. It seems to balance out whatever craziness is going on – whether it’s my brain exploding from publishing my first cookbook, or trying to set up my Amazon author page (which wasn’t that easy), or working with an international marketing firm for my overseas book events, or, or, or… I needed some Mediterranean food!
I think this craving for Mediterranean food comes from my Italian heritage. Both sides of my family come from the Southern regions of Italy, one-half from Bari, Italy, the other half from Sicily. So most all the foods associated with the Mediterranean regions I love and cook a lot.
For example: I get over-the-top excited when olive crush time comes around in the Pacific Northwest and new olive oils are available locally. I head to the tastings and fresh bottlings. And when Trader Joe’s comes out with a new package or brand of olive medley I have to try it! And then, one day I realized that not everyone is quite this gaga over olives and olive oil or other Mediterranean foods. I’ll try to hold my excitement inside in the future.
The cupboards are half bare, which you will rarely hear from me, because we are paring down food supplies before we travel. I have limited ingredients to work with today. However, I always have a jar of olives, artichoke hearts, and some dried pasta in the cupboard, as well as garlic, onions, and tomatoes which are staples in my kitchen year round and abundant in my garden in the summer. So I’ll throw these ingredients together to make something.
I chopped up some cooked chicken and added it to this pasta dish and think it turned out quite nice!
This is not a salad per se, it’s served hot. However, if you want to serve it cold, or have leftovers, it would be good at room temp too.
- 6 ounces angel hair pasta*
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cups roma tomatoes, chopped*
- 14 ounces artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
- 6 ounces kalamata olives, pitted
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small sweet Italian pepper, finely chopped*
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed*
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to season at the end of cooking
- Cook pasta in a large pot of water salted 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain.
- While pasta cooks, prep remaining ingredients: mince the garlic; chop tomatoes; roughly chop artichokes; drain and slice the olives, chop the onions and pepper; cube the chicken (if using).
- In a large skillet over medium high heat warm the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and sweet peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomatoes begin to break down and release some juices into the oil, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the artichokes and olives. Stir to combine, then add the cooked pasta and chicken to the skillet and toss to coat.
- Continue cooking for a few minutes, until all ingredients are warmed through. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle with a little olive oil and pasta water, if needed.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley.
- Omit chicken for vegetarian version.
- Substitute regular pasta with whole wheat pasta if you prefer.
- Substitute sweet Italian pepper with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like).
- Substitute chopped tomatoes with cherry or grape tomatoes.