My most current experience as a private chef was working for one of the wealthiest men in the world, Ron Perelman. He owns Revlon. I no longer buy Revlon products.
That’s not the point of my story though.
I barely ate pasta until I started cooking for the Perelman family. Pasta has never been a go-to food for me, and a few years ago I started eating a Paleo-ish diet, which means I eat pasta even less frequently.
But Mr. Perelman was a pasta man and so I made some variation of pasta for him every single day. Which means I too ended up eating pasta every single day…and let me tell you, I’m back on the pasta train (in moderation)!
I had to have a snack ready in the afternoons for him, so while I was cooking dinner, this was an easy and simple dish that I could whip up on the side.
I also worked at Del Posto (one of New York’s finest Italian restaurants) as a freelance cook for many years and learned how to make all their gorgeous pasta sauces. I’ve taught their butternut squash ravioli recipe to a class of eager Thai university students and occasionally I’ll cook their stellar bolognese at home. But the main dish I keep going back to is Del Posto’s incredibly simple tomato sauce.
Del Posto’s recipe: high-quality canned tomatoes sieved into a pot and reduced over low heat until a saucy consistency is achieved. Simplicity at its finest.
My tomato sauce is one step more involved. I add a ton of garlic, high-quality canned tomatoes and then reduce. Still simple, and yet those thin angelic sheets of garlic that swim amongst their tomato brethren come together in beautiful harmony to rejoice hallelujah on your taste buds.
This pasta dish is another addition to The Dinner Dance, a place where Molly and I share ideas, recipes and cooking tips for busy people (moms, dads, business professionals, college students, private chefs…anyone and everyone who could use a little help in the kitchen).
Molly is a mother of three, so when I’m thinking of recipes that she can make while trying to manage a business, a house, help with homework, bath time, etc., I put myself in the head space of “what would Molly do.” Molly has also posted this recipe on her blog Bluebonnet Babies and talks about her experience with trying to feed her kids healthy food yet not pushing them to eat every morsel on their plates, like our parents may have done. Parenting sounds complicated! But together, Molly and I are trying to help with ideas for the table that appeal to everyone, from billionaires to babes.
This dish is a no brainer. If you have a little time to throw together something super yummy, make this.
Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Capers and Olives
8-10 cloves garlic, sliced super thinly
2 (28.2 oz) cans whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Capers and Olives
¼ cup halved Taggiasca olives (or olives of your liking)
2 tbs. capers
½ lb fettuccine noodles
2 tbs. butter (unsalted)
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus more for garnish
chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Keep on low heat until you’re ready to use it.
In another heavy bottomed pot, or saute pan with high sides, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn the heat to low and add in the sliced garlic. The idea is to cook the garlic slowly to infuse the oil with garlic. We are not looking for golden brown garlic here. Cook 4-6 minutes, or until the garlic is soft but not browned.
Bring the open cans of tomatoes over to the stove and carefully stick your hand into the container (please don’t cut yourself on the can!). Squish the tomatoes in the can, breaking them up while slowly pouring out the contents into the pan.
If you have children, this could be a great time to get them into the kitchen. Set them up with a bowl and have them do this on the counter, not over the stove.
Once the tomatoes are in, season the tomatoes with salt.
Bring the tomatoes up to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Tomato sauce is prone to burn, so be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan every 5 minutes or so.
Bring the water back up to a boil and season it with salt. The water should taste like the ocean, but don’t make it so salty that it tastes like a salt lick!
Cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions. If you like al dente pasta (or a bit of bite to your noodles), take the pasta out one minute earlier than the package says. Reserve about half a cup of pasta water in case you need to thin out the tomato sauce.
Add the pasta to the tomato sauce pan and add the olives and capers. Mix everything together thoroughly with a pair of tongs. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Keep the flame on low and add the butter and continuously stir the pasta until the butter is melted. This makes for a creamier sauce.
Add the grated cheese and turn off the heat. Mix in the cheese thoroughly.
Check the seasonings and add more salt, cheese or butter as you wish.
Plate the pasta and grate a bit of fresh cheese on top. Garnish with parsley if you want your plate to look fancy.
Molly England is the founder of Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub for all of your pregnancy, birth, baby, breastfeeding and parenting needs. In November 2014 she became a Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator, a passion of hers since giving birth to her first daughter in 2010. She strives to find the best resources, most reliable information and healthiest products for her family, her childbirth education students and now a wider community. Bluebonnet Babies blog and website provide resources based on evidence, research, experience and love for parents making healthy and informed choices.