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Juicy fresh tomatoes perk up pasta sauce

Thursday, July 11, 2002

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

With vine-ripened tomatoes only a few weeks away, today's Countdown recipe for Tomato-Olive-Onion Pasta seemed a timely choice.


Linda Buono Coleman of Castle Shannon made up the recipe when she had excess fresh tomatoes.

"I'm Italian, but red sauce isn't my favorite," she said from her office at Pennsylvania Association of Credit Management, which is only one stop sign away from her home.

"I prefer clam or white sauce, but a few years ago I had all these tomatoes, so I sauteed an onion and added black olives."

It's one of the few dishes she doesn't make with garlic, opting for the taste of onion to dominate.

A widow without children, she makes the dish for her two nephews and a niece since it's one of their favorites.

"I was brought up to call pasta 'macaroni,' she said. "I get calls from my niece and nephews asking me when I'm going to make 'macaroni with olives and tomatoes' and then inviting themselves to dinner ... which I thoroughly enjoy."

In winter, she uses canned tomatoes out of necessity but prefers fresh when possible.

"It's a sloppy mess when you use fresh tomatoes, with the juice going down your arm and all, but they're the best," she said.

Linda likes quick recipes that can be made in 30 minutes, as well as hefty menus that can feed a crowd.

"I enjoyed cooking for groups of 30 when my husband was alive," she said. "It wasn't work ... I enjoyed it, unlike dusting."

Tomato-Olive-Onion Pasta

  • 12-ounces bowtie pasta -- may substitute any pasta except spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
  • 5 or 6 medium fresh ripe tomatoes with juice or 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring pot of salted water to boil and add pasta, stirring occasionally.

Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add olives, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir well, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour over cooked and drained hot pasta, toss and serve with just a plain green salad and Italian rolls or bread. This also makes a good side dish with chicken piccata.

Tester's note: If you have basil, oregano or other herbs growing in the back yard, throw some in the sauce. Ditto for jarred or powdered garlic. Top with Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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