Grown-Up Pasta with Feta, Black Olives, and Tomatoes

I've traded my futon for a real bed and the Backstreet Boys aren't my favorite band anymore, but I'm still loving the pasta dish I learned to make in college. Here's the story behind the recipe.™
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Legally, you could call the building where I lived my senior year of college a house, though I'm sure it wasn't up to code. The entire structure listed slightly to the rear, like a funhouse ride where the floor might give way without warning. But the kitchen was large enough and the appliances were decent. After three years of hobbling along with a MicroFridge and a sad electric-burner dorm stove, I decided it was time to step up my culinary game.

Every Wednesday I rode the free campus shuttle to the farmers' market with my friend Beth to troll its stalls for dinner ideas. Yet despite all the fruits and vegetables at our disposal, our signature dish, the one that really made us feel like adventurous, accomplished adult cooks, was nothing more than pasta with canned black olives, cherry tomatoes, and a plastic pouch of herb-flavored, precrumbled feta cheese.

I know. Now I cringe. But 13 years ago I thought this was the height of sophistication. We'd dish up huge bowls of pasta, uncork a bottle of Chianti, and blast our Backstreet Boys CD before heading to the bar.

But unlike the Backstreet Boys, the pasta dish has aged surprisingly well, though I've made a few adjustments. These days I sub in wrinkly kalamata olives for the bloated canned version and use soft sheep's-milk feta -- so creamy it doesn't crumble as much as melt through your fingers. Then (I admit it) I crank up the '90s pop music and sit down to a delicious dinner.

Pasta with Feta, Black Olives, and Tomatoes

Work: 5 minutes

Total: 20 minutes


1 pound dried pasta (penne, spaghetti, or linguine)

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup cured black olives, roughly chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until done; drain and return to pot.

2. Toss the pasta with olive oil, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and black pepper.

Serves 4

Per Serving: 560 cal, 14.5g fat (4.5g sat), 342mg sodium, 89g carb, 17mg chol, 18g protein, 5g fiber

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