Fresh Herb Pasta

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I first sampled the easy way that Italians cook their pasta when I was fortunate enough to house sit for friends in Florence, Italy. When they would prepare a simple dinner, they would pick some herbs, dice a fresh tomato, combine them with some olive oil and butter. Sometimes they would heat the mixture and sometimes not, and toss it with pasta. Since I’m addicted to chile, I always add it to their basic recipe. In fact it, this is so easy to prepare it can hardly be called a recipe


  • 1 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, chives, marjoram, oregano, parsley, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chile

  • Salt

  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced

  • Freshly grated Romano or Pecorino Romano cheese


Combine the herbs, shallots, olive oil, butter, chile, and a little salt in a serving bowl and mix well.

Cook the pasta until done and drain. Add the pasta to the bowl, toss to coat. Top with the tomatoes and grated cheese and serve.

Salsa di Pomadoro Crudo (Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce)

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This is a very basic sauce that can be easily changed to create a variety of different pasta dishes. For example, substitute feta cheese for the mozzarella, oregano for the basil, add some kalamata olives and chopped capers and you have Greek pasta. This dish can be served hot or at room temperature making it great for summer entertaining.


  • 4 tomatoes, chopped

  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil

  • 2 to 3 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced

  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella, asiago, or ricotta cheese, diced small

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Chopped walnuts for garnish


Combine the tomatoes, basil, chiles, onion, and garlic in a large serving bowl. Stir in the cheese, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce stand for 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Cook the pasta until the done and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with the walnuts and serve.

Mixed Mediterranean Herbed Vegetables with Penne Pasta

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Here is a dish that Nancy likes to prepare towards the end of the summer when fresh vegetables are in abundance and she doesn’t want to heat up the kitchen with a hot stove. Use the tomatoes as a base sauce and vary the types of vegetables for a different pasta flavor. Begin the meal with a crisp Caesar salad and finish it with a warm apple nut tart.


The Herbed Vegetables

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut in half

  • 1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut in quarters

  • 1 thickly sliced red onion

  • The Herbed Marinade

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or substitute 1 teaspoon dried

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne chile

The Pasta

  • 4 cups cooked penne pasta, kept warm

  • 1 tablespoon crushed chile pequin, or other small, hot chile

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, Greek preferred, or substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese


Place the vegetables in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, oregano, garlic, and cayenne together and pour over the vegetables. Marinate the vegetables for 1 hour at room temperature. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.

Place the marinated vegetables in a grill basket and grill over a medium fire until the vegetables a slightly cooked but still a little firm, about 7 minutes. Be sure to shake the basket so that the vegetables are evenly grilled. Remove the vegetables from the basket and chop them. Place them in a bowl with the vegetable juices.

Toss the warm or hot pasta with 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade, chile, oregano, parsley, and vinegar. Add the vegetables and juices, artichoke hearts, and olives and toss again.

Season with salt and pepper, top with the cheese and serve.


Green Chile Pasta

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Green chile pasta has been popular in the Southwest for many years. It is surprisingly easy to make, and even easier to eat. Just remember that if you are using fresh or canned green chiles, it is necessary to remove all of the liquid, or the excess liquid will interfere with the water measurement.


  • 1/4 cup drained green chile finely minced or processed in food processor to a paste consistency
    3 tablespoons green chile powder

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Using a small, heavy skillet, dry saute the green chile over a low heat until the moisture has evaporated. Allow the chile to cool before it is added to the remaining ingredients.

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture begins to form a ball, adding more water drop by drop if the dough is too dry. The dough should be firm, but not sticky. Blend the dough for 15 seconds more to knead it.

Roll out the dough until it is very thin. Cut the dough into the desired shape. Separate the dough, allow it to dry, and cook it in boiling, salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and serve it with your favorite sauce.


Spicy Rasta Pasta with Chicken and Hot Chiles

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Originally served at the restaurant Barbacoa in Newport Beach, California, this pasta has the flavors of the Caribbean.


For the Pasta:

  • 12 ounces assorted color peparodelle pasta (wide cut noodles)

  • 1 ½ pounds skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4 inch by 4 inch strips

  • 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 pound zucchini and yellow squash (cut very thin lengthwise)

  • 2 cups Spicy Marinara Sauce 

  • 1 habanero chile, stem and seeds removed, minced

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • ½ cup white wine

  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

 For the Sauce:

  • ½ teaspoon crushed hot dried red chile, such as piquin

  • 1 small white onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 6 ounces tomato paste

  • 3/4 pound whole tomatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil



For the Pasta:

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water with a little olive oil until cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Dust the chicken with the jerk seasoning spice and saute in the olive oil in a large frying pan for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, squash and saute for an additional minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cilantro, and boil for 1 minute.

Mix the pasta with the chicken sauce, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

 For the Sauce:

In a pan, saute the chile, onion, garlic, basil, and oregano in the oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and whole tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place the sauce in a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Add salt to taste.

Chill the sauce and add the fresh basil.