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Pasta – Makarna

Penne with Olives, Garlic, Tomatoes and Dill – Domatesli, Zeytinli Penne Makarna

As much as we love cooking, there is a challenge for all of us to produce healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare supper at the end of the day. This is even more challenging at weekdays, as we juggle the school run, work, daily chores. At times like these, I try to make the most of what I have in my fridge and kitchen and come out with something, hopefully a delicious bite to eat. At one of days like this, I opened my fridge and found some good olives (and we do eat a lot of olives), cherry tomatoes on the vine, garlic and dill. My family loves pasta and the combination of these made a wonderful, delicious pasta sauce, that you can prepare in no time (and even ahead of time), mediterranean way.

The ingredients might change depending on what I have at the moment – courgettes (zucchini), mushrooms, onions, some good pecorino cheese .. all would make a wonderful sauce and can save that weekday supper.

Serves 2-3
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes

350gr/12oz penne pasta
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
10-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
3oml/2tablespoons of fresh dill, coarsely chopped
90gr/3oz Turkish or Kalamata black and green olives, pitted and halved
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sprigs of fresh dill to serve
Grated parmesan or pecorino romano to serve

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the garlic for a minute or two. Add the cherry tomatoes and olives, give them a good mix and cook for a further two minutes. Check the seasoning (olives can be quite salty) and season with salt, if needed, and black pepper

In the meantime, place the pasta in a saucepan of boiling water, add a little salt and a dash of olive oil. Stir occasionally and boil for about 10 minutes, until “al dente”. Towards the end of the cooking, take 2 tablespoons of the pasta’s cooking liquid and add to the pasta sauce, along with the dill. Mix well. Once pasta is cooked, drain the water and mix the pasta with the sauce.

Serve hot immediately, with sprigs of dill over the pasta and some grated pecorino or parmesan over the pasta, if you like.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Pasta with mushrooms, garlic and parsley – Mantarli Makarna


This is one of our favorite pasta recipes and appears on our table often. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe with a little twist, as I use Turkish red pepper flakes – any red pepper or paprika flakes would do – instead of fresh chilies. The children love mushroom too, so I add the red pepper flakes to the pasta after I serve them. The marriage of mushrooms, garlic, parsley and lemon is divine, really brings out the flavor of the mushrooms. A lovely, refreshing recipe to start the New Year 🙂

I like using different kinds of mushrooms – chestnut, portobello, oyster, shitake mushrooms would all work really well – for variety of flavor and texture. Served with a green salad by side, this makes a wonderful meal.

Serves 2 – 4 (serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course)
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time:10-12 minutes

350gr/12oz mushrooms gently cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced (tear the oyster mushrooms)
400gr/14oz spaghetti
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
45ml/3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 juice of lemon
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper (or paprika) flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

50gr/2oz grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano to serve
Green salad to serve by the side

Put the pasta into a pot of salted boiling water and leave to cook until it is tender but still has a bite to it – this usually takes about 7 – 9 minutes, please check the pasta packaging for cooking al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a shallow pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper. Leave to cook on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms time to time, but it is important to let them color so that their sweet nutty flavor comes out. Check the seasoning, as the mushrooms do like seasoning, and add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes (if not serving to small children first!) and parsley, stir well.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and tip into the mushroom sauce. Mix the pasta in the sauce and continue cooking for a minute or so. Serve the pasta into warm bowls with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano over the top. A plain green salad goes well by the side.

Afiyet Olsun!

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