There are evenings when I crave pizza but don’t have the time to prepare it. That’s when I turn to this pasta dish, one that has all my favorite pizza toppings turned into a sauce, which I affectionately call Pizza Pasta. Penne is the preferred pasta here, for it’s sturdy enough to stand up to the rustic trimmings.
A 10-quart (10 l) pasta pot fitted with a colander; 6 warmed, shallow soup bowls.
3 tablespoons course sea salt
1 pound (500 g) Italian penne pasta
2 cups (500 ml) tomato sauce or one 28-ounce (794 g) can diced Italian tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup (60 g) best-quality brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
12 artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup (60 g) capers in vinegar, drained
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
8 ounces (250 g) Italian whole-milk mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
4 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn
Hot red pepper flakes, for serving
1. In the pasta pot, bring 8 quarts (8 l) of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan that is large enough to hold the cooked pasta, combine the tomatoes sauce or canned tomatoes, rosemary, olives, artichokes, capers and fennel seeds. Simmer while the pasta is cooking.
3. When the pasta is cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the colander and drain the pasta over the sink, shaking to remove the excess water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the sauce in the saucepan. Toss to evenly coat the pasta. Cover and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to the warmed soup bowls, and garnish with the cheese and basil. Pass the red pepper flakes.
A favorite household red is the inky-purple Vacqueyras, the southern Rhône wine from Domaine des Amouriers. Their Les Genestes is a typical blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, with lots of spice that marries well with this pasta dish.
This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.