Homemade Italian cooking was always an important part of my upbringing; the kitchen was the heart of my home. Whether it was a holiday or a family get together, cooking was always a festive event. It was also an opportunity to bond with family members as we created a feast, passing down family recipes, recounting old stories, or learning the history of each meal prepared. Each individual was always considered; their tastes, preferences, dislikes, or special diets – nothing was ever too big or impossible for us. Italian cooking in my family has a very nurturing quality to it and we love to accommodate; feeding others is a way to express love and care.
A favorite dish of mine is this pasta with broccoli rabe, sundried tomatoes, and Kalamata olives. Simple yet tasteful, the bitterness of the rabe and sweetness of the sundried tomatoes are beautifully balanced by the delicately salted olives. The presentation of the green and red colors also make it a festive Italian dish to serve at Christmas!
Pasta with Broccoli Rabe, Sundried Tomatoes, and Kalamata Olives
- 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, washed and chopped
- 1 ½ half cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil), chopped. Note: If purchasing dried, soak in warm water for an hour to soften.
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped. Rinse well under water; they can be very salty.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ box fusilli pasta
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (Optional – if you want to add a spicy kick!)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Pour olive oil into a large pan. Brown 3 cloves of garlic over medium to high heat. Do not burn. Remove from burner, discard garlic, and let olive oil cool, about 3 minutes, otherwise the oil will splatter and make a mess if it still hot when the cooler temperatures of the chopped ingredients are added. Add broccoli rabe, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Blend all ingredients until covered with the olive oil. Return to burner, lower heat to medium, cover, and stir from time to time. If mixture seems to be drying out, add a little olive oil. Cook until ingredients have softened, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil. Generously season water with salt. Since the olives will already be salted, I would recommend adding salt slowly and taste testing the water. Add the pasta and cook according to box directions. Drain pasta and add to cooked mixture, stirring until everything is nicely blended together. Serves 2-4, depending how big your appetite is! (You’ll definitely want seconds!)
More About Gabrielle
Coming from a line of Italian cooks, many of the recipes Gabrielle grew to love were naturally meat, egg, and dairy free. When not spending time getting creative in the kitchen and cooking for those she loves, Gabrielle is a full time yoga teacher, teaching public yoga classes and providing private yoga therapy. She also writes a free seasonal newsletter that offers yoga tips, thoughts, and other inspiration for positive living.
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Photo Credits: Photos of the kitchens, pasta, and Sophia Loren were all found on Pinterest. #WeDontOwnThose All other pics provided by Gabrielle DeFusco.