Lots of cookbooks these days seem to start with a chapter on pantry staples. These are things that you want to always have on hand so you can – voilà! – cook up an amazing meal without a trip to the store. I agree with this theory and I have a pantry and I have a lot of pantry staples. I am not, however, turning out incredible meals with what I have on hand. Produce figures in strongly in most of my meals and if you buy a lot of produce you know, it doesn’t last long.
That said, I think this was a great meal and it could easily become a go-to recipe for me. There are two only perishable things in this pasta. One is parsley which I always seem to have in my refrigerator and the other is feta cheese. Feta has an incredibly long refrigerator life span so next time you see it on sale, buy a few. Do yourself a favor and buy good feta – one that comes in a block and not in a tub. The pre-crumbled stuff tastes like sawdust to me.
One Year Ago: Niçoise Tartines with Peperonata
Greek Pasta Casserole
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound small pasta shells
1 (15 oz.) can ready-cut diced tomatoes with their juice
1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, well drained and diced
1/4 cup pitted and roughly chopped black olives (DT: I used Kalamata)
2 tbsp. red wine
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup (about 5 oz – but use more if you like!) crumbled feta cheese
1. Bring a large quantity of water to boil in a stockpot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds; do not let it get at all colored. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until very al dente, soft but not quite cooked through. It will continue to cook in the oven. Drain thoroughly in a colander and place back in the pot. Pour on the garlic oil and toss well. Let cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
5. Mix in all the remaining ingredients. Place in a shallow 3-quart casserole (such as a 13×9 inch pan). Cover with foil. (The pasta can be assembled and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
6. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes to lightly brown the top of the casserole.