Wednesday, January 16, 2013

...Tastiness - Aunt Sylly Pasta for Dinner

Self-Portrait, of course
Yes, she's really that tiny and adorable
Photo taken in our hometown at the top of the fire tower in Oubache State Park 

This is my Aunt Syl.  For 29 years, that's how I knew her.  And then H began talking, and he began referring to her adoringly as "Aunt Siwwy." (Those l's were quite a challenge)  How did I never think of this?!  The kid's brilliant.  And so is Aunt Sylly.  I've learned a lot from her over the years about general life things:  happiness, always being true to myself, casinos, Belgian beers, living a good life, many uses for a pacifier clip, Rod Stewart, how to climb a tower, and this recipe.

Last week I finalized our Spring Break plans.  Spring Break is one of my favorite reasons to be a teacher.  Sure, there are a lot less busy travel times to get out of dodge, but having a Spring Break inspires me to be sure that we do.  This year, we're heading to Disneyland for a few days, then heading to the beach to visit Aunt Sylly.  And I couldn't be more excited!  I think B and I are more excited than the kids.  Like they need a vacation.

A few years ago, on an east coast beach trip to Isle of Palms, SC, Aunt Syl made this pasta for us.  I know what you're thinking.  "Pasta?!  At the beach?!  Bloat!  Heavy!  Ugh!"  Well, my (now 3! Yay!) readers, this pasta is perfect all year round.  I loved it then, and enjoy it on a regular basis now.

First in pictures. 

What you need.
Minus the bananas.  I have a really small kitchen.
And obviously, I do my shopping at Trader Joe's.  You don't have to.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.
Add spices.

Add the tomatoes.
And maybe some more crushed red pepper.
My kids don't mind spicy.
The longer it simmers, the better it will be.  Aunt Syl lets hers go for hours.  You know, the way real live Italians do.
(Read "Eye-talian", like we heard growing up in the great state of Indiana.)
Mine doesn't simmer so long.  I don't really have that kind of time.  It's Wednesday.  
Add the kalamata olives just before serving
The finished product.
This is an ENORMOUS bowl.
This family eats.  Plates shown from tallest to smallest.
B's pasta mountain is covering some of his broccoli.

H's first bite.

L showing that eating with utensils is optional.  And adorable. 
As you can see from the many, many pictures above, I served our Aunt Sylly Pasta tonight with baked tilapia seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning and broccoli.  Part of the whole healthy thing I'm trying to do.  Often, we eat this dish for Meatless Monday.  Sometimes, I cube about a pound of chicken breasts and saute it with the onions and garlic before adding the tomatoes.  That's B's favorite way to enjoy the Sylly Pasta.  Do what you love. 

 Aunt Sylly Pasta

  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • crushed red pepper - to taste
  • 2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar kalamata olives
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • 16 oz. whole wheat penne pasta (You could, of course, use whatever kind of pasta you like.)
  • parmesan-type cheese (I bought a shaved blend because I'm cheap. And lazy today.)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan/skillet.
  2. Add onion and garlic.  Saute until soft (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper.  Saute another minute or until the spices are fragrant.
  4. Add tomatoes.  Stir it up.  Now would be a good time to start boiling your pasta water.
  5. Once you sauce is boiling, (bubbling?) stick a lid on it and turn the heat down to medium/low.  Let that simmer.  
  6. Once the pasta water is boiling, cook the noodles according to package directions.
  7. About 5 minutes before removing the sauce from the stove, stir in the kalamata olives.  I like to cut mine in half first when I'm serving this to my kids because sometimes there are pits in them.  I try to avoid performing the Heimlich when enjoying dinner.
  8. Mix the pasta and sauce together in a (huge) bowl.
  9. Top with some parmesan, or serve with some at the table.  Or skip it altogether.

**This recipe is NOT an exact science.  In fact, today is the first time I've ever measured while preparing it.  Normally, I just add seasonings until it looks like enough.  Also, this may not be how Aunt Syl makes her pasta sauce at all.  But it's how I remember it.  So it's how I make it.  And it's delicious.  


  1. Where are your and B's personalized plates? How do you know which one is yours?

    With the exception of the olives (because I'm just not a fan... yet? do I need to have them with pasta?), Aunt Sylly's pasta is a lot like how I make mine! Though the crushed red pepper is a Bob thing, I never used it before I met him. But obviously, she must be cool :)

    1. I wish Aunt Favorite would have gotten us plates, too.

      No olives?! I think I might have known that, but still feel sorry for you. L's not a fan either. Tonight I pointed this out and H said, "I guess she just doesn't belong here." And if that's not enough, this morning I found her bacon hiding under her plate when she said "DONE!" at breakfast. I'm hoping it's just because it was turkey bacon. Darn healthy affecting my children.

      I like the kick of the crushed red with the saltiness of the olives. And I just plain love olives.

    2. Well, I'll eat them if they make it on to my nachos, but I guess I haven't had them in/on something and been totally blown away. I also hate pickles, which I understand makes me pretty weird.

      L had no problem with the chocolate-covered bacon, so maybe it is because it's turkey bacon. It's a big adjustment.

    3. Reheated turkey bacon at that.

  2. Forget the olives and make this for me! I'm always amazed at your dinners during the week, we make the same 5 things all the time because that is all I have time to plan for, I need some tips. Also, you made bacon for your kids on a week day? In the morning? Again, mine are lucky if they get all their clothes on straight before we get out the door. Impressive!

    1. No way! I'll do what I've always done and just eat your olives for you.

      We get stuck in ruts at times, too. For like 2 months, we had spaghetti on Thursdays. It just kept happening. I even planned against it. I do all my meal planning before I grocery shop. I always try to plan for cooking 6 meals in a week, and usually at least one gets carried over. And I use my crock pot at least once a week.

      The bacon was leftover from a brunch we had here. I consider pouring cereal in a bowl "making breakfast" for them. Then mom of the year plops them down in front of the television while I go get myself ready.