8 Oz Bow-Tie Pasta
3 Oz Sun Dried Tomatoes
3 Oz Pitted Kalamata Olives
3 Oz Feta Cheese, Cubed
2 Oz Pine Nuts
2 Teaspoons Basil
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
When Romano's Macaroni Grill opened near me in the early '90s, I was thrilled. This restaurant really took Italian Cuisine to a new level, one heretofore unseen by a chain restaurant. Over the years, they've changed their menu from time to time, but I'm still pretty happy with their fare. Except for the fact that they discontinued my favorite dish, Farfalle Ronaldo.
You can still sort of get them to 'manufacture' this dish for you from the build-your-own-pasta-menu, but it just doesn't seem to be the same. Can't recall why--perhaps there was some ingredient missing. Anyway, the next best thing is to make it at home--in fact, that may even be the better thing. I've been making my own version for years. It's quick, easy, and can be made from ingredients that you probably have on hand, or should. Here's how:
You could use any sort of olives in this, but the Kalamata are traditional.
Sun Dried Tomatoes come all sorts of ways, including suspended in oil. These are two oily for me, I just buy them dry. You can even get them already julienned.
Pine Nuts: Make sure you get fresh pine nuts. Because of their high fat content, these can go rancid quite quickly, so avoid buying them in little packets that have been hanging on the grocery store shelf for who knows how long. I buy them from Central Market in bulk, then freeze them in a ziplock until I need them.
Feta Cheese comes in all sorts of flavors these days. Just get regular. Also resist the urge to buy the already crumbled version--the crumbs in these are too small and melt when you mix things. Buy the block and cube it.
Okay, let's get down to business.
First, get some water boiling in a large pot. Do the same in a small sauce pan or saucier, then boil your sun dried tomatoes in the small sauce pan. Let things boil for a few minutes to soften the tomatoes.
Once they are soft, drain them and return them to the same pan.
Add the olive oil and saute them a minute or two.
While this is going on, add your pasta to the now boiling water in the big pot. Boil for 6-8 minutes, until Al Dente, or to your liking.
You can also cube your Feta right now.
After a couple minutes, add the olives to the sun dried tomatoes. Olives, with their high levels of fat, taken on a whole new level of flavor when heated through.
Stir the whole concoction with a fork or spoon while its heating, to keep it from scorching on the bottom.
Add the basil. If you have fresh, you can certainly use that, but our garden was bare when we made this batch, so we used dried.
Add the pine nuts.
Cook another minute or two to let everything heat through.
Keep stirring it from time to time.
Drain your pasta, place some in a bowl, then spoon on your tomato concoction. Top with some of the feta. Serve immediately.
Until Next Time,