Pasta from the 90’s

January 5, 2010


Along with just about everyone else in the food blogging world, I was sad to hear about the demise of Gourmet.  I had been getting the magazine for 16 years when it went away.  Truth be told, I actually always preferred the recipes in Bon Appétit and Food and Wine, but I still looked forward to receiving my issue each month.  In my four notebooks where I have years of cut-out recipes, there are countless ones with the Gourmet font.  Including this one.


This recipe is on the second page of my “pasta” section which means I cut it out way back in 1993 or so.  Grunge.  Living in a crappy one-bedroom apartment in a crappy building in a great neighborhood.  Just learning to cook for myself.  Working as a singing-dancing waitress on a dinner cruise ship.  Oh yes, I did.  Yes I did.  I did “The Electric Slide” with strangers and got paid for it.

These many years later, I still make this dish and it is one of Randy’s favorites.  If you are a vegetarian, you probably often get the “Do you eat a lot of pasta?” question.  (Or my other favorite, “Do you eat a lot of salad?”)  The truth is that I don’t eat a lot of pasta.  It is often my only choice in a restaurant so I eat it out, but I don’t make a lot of it at home.  Not for any good reason, I love pasta, I just find there are a lot of other interesting things to eat in the vegetarian world.

Here are some really good things I can say about this one.  It’s fast.  The sauce is done in the time it takes to cook the noodles.  It is dead easy – no sautéing – just putting all the ingredients together in a pot and cooking them down a bit.  It is made with pantry staples, you always have Kalamata olives, tomato paste, and garlic on hand, right?  And it’s really tasty.  Kind of like a poor man’s puttanesca (and a vegetarian one at that.)  Lastly, this is a very low-fat and low-calorie dish.  The only fat comes from the olives and that is good fat, the heart-healthy kind.  OK, yes, there is a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top, but that is optional and besides, it’s just a sprinkle.  I have changed the recipe quite a bit in the years I have been making it.  It was originally called Bruce’s Pasta Sauce but I’m changing it to Bruce and Dana’s Pasta Sauce.


One Year Ago:  Curried Red Lentil Stew with Vegetables

Bruce and Dana’s Pasta Sauce
Loosely adapted from Gourmet
3-4 servings

This is the kind of sauce that really hugs the noodles so it is best with something short and ridgey, like radiattore.  In this dish, I like it pretty dry, so I usually make one pound of pasta with this much sauce.  This last time, I made 3/4 of a pound and you can see it is a little saucier.  Do what you like best.  Also, if you don’t sprinkle with Parmesan, this dish is vegan.

1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup water
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like heat)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. dry red wine
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.  Boil pasta (3/4 to 1 pound) until al dente.  Scoop the pasta directly into the sauce pan and stir well to combine.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.


  1. We don’t eat a lot of pasta either, even though we like it. I will be making this dish though. I love how easy it is, perfect for busy week nights.

    Comment by Maria — January 5, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

  2. gotta love those throwback dishes!

    Comment by Leslie — January 6, 2010 @ 12:09 am

  3. That looks really, really good. This post has made me miss Gourmet all over again!

    Comment by Hannah — January 6, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  4. Let’s hear it for “The Electric Slide”!

    Comment by Koek! — January 6, 2010 @ 5:45 am

  5. Sigh, I love pasta- though I try not to have it more than twice a week. This looks delicious, and I’ll have to try it soon (might be very soon- my pasta quota for the week is not up yet).

    PS. I love that you were a singing/dancing waitress! Fantastic!

    Comment by Ele — January 6, 2010 @ 7:30 am

  6. I love how simple this is, but I bet the taste is amazing. Sounds like a perfect weeknight meal. Or even great for lunch.

    Comment by Katie @ goodLife {eats} — January 6, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  7. We love pasta…and this is bookmarked!

    Comment by sheba — January 6, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  8. Yum. I haven’t used radiattore in a long time. I’m stuck in a spaghetti rut. Let’s hear it for the 90’s!

    Comment by The Leftoverist — January 6, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  9. Just made this for dinner- was delicious. Even Andrew (who generally likes his pasta a bit saucier) proclaimed it “quite tasty” and polished his plate!

    Comment by Ele — January 7, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

  10. I don’t usually like red sauces but this one looks like one I should try!

    Comment by Ashley — January 15, 2010 @ 3:29 am

  11. I made this tonight and it was a hit!!! Very quick, easy and delicious…the way I like it!

    Comment by midori — April 15, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  12. By the way, I didn’t have dry sherry on hand so I googled a substitute for it and found that apple cider vinegar was it. Surprisingly, it worked perfectly in this dish.

    Comment by midori — April 15, 2010 @ 12:25 am

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