Hot summer days scream for meals you can pull together quickly without heating the house too much. So I share with you (ta-da!): tapenade pasta. I serve it warm, but you can eat it cold as suggested in the original video recipe I found on How can you not love their site for its tagline alone: “Italians do eat better.” We sure do. So can you.

inspired by Chef Alessandro of

Serves 4

1 pound pasta*
1 pint grape tomatoes—leave half whole, cut remainder in half
4 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (please trust me–you won’t taste a hint of fish in this dish!)
1 clove garlic
basil (handful of leaves)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (organic is nice if you can find)—juice and zest

*I made it with penne rigate, but also love it with Sclafani’s double elbows (a.k.a “bouble elbows”). Typos are fun. 🙂

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, put half of the tomatoes (the whole ones) in your food processor along with the basil, Kalamatas, anchovy paste, garlic, capers and lemon juice.

Chop/grind, then blend in add olive oil.

Drain pasta; transfer to a large bowl (or pot), add the olive dressing, remaining tomatoes and lemon zest and toss well. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish, top with fresh basil leaves and Pecorino Romano.“It’sa so delish, everybody come capisce…”

Buon appetito, amici!

Got basil?

Adding tomatoes makes this pesto different and especially summery good! Small disclaimer: this kat’s not Sicilian. But I was born and raised in Melilli’s sister city, and many of those closest to me are–at least in part–so let’s say I’m Sicilian by association, thereby qualified to share this particular recipe with you.

San Marzanos from the deck

With basil blowing up outside and too many tomatoes, this recipe perfectly combines what’s fresh and plentiful in a variation on the pesto you already know and love.

Bountiful basil: lemon, cinnamon and Genovese

adapted from Cooking Light

¼ cup pine nuts
3  garlic cloves
4  cups  loosely packed basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
¼  cup  extra-virgin olive oil
½  teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼  teaspoon  crushed red pepper (I use Penzey’s Aleppo)
½  cup grated Pecorino Romano
2  cups  chopped seeded tomato (I used a combo of San Marzanos and Cherokee Purples)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes, shaking the pan constantly.

Add nuts and garlic to food processor; process till minced.

Feline supervision is key!

Add basil, oil, salt and peppers; process until blended, scraping sides as needed. Add cheese; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; fold in tomato. Toss with pasta of your choice.

Dinner is served--dig in!

Makes about 2.5 cups of pesto. Be sure to save at least a few tablespoons ’cause I’ll be back with another way to use the pesto later this week. Till then, ciao for now!