Photogenic issues aside, odds are you’ve had this dish—or something similar—at a faux-Tuscan sponge-painted restaurant located next to a Bed, Bath & Beyond or a Sports Authority. There may or may not have been unlimited breadsticks, or the word “Grill” in the name. Anyhow, this is a quick and easy crowd pleaser that, considering you have the ingredients lying around, can be thrown together at the last minute. It may not be the cheapest meal you’ll ever make, but it sure beats $12.95 a serving.
As below it makes 4 good-sized servings.
• About 20 Kalamata olives, slivered (a giant jar—over 3 lbs. worth—of these is less than $8 at Costco; it keeps forever in the fridge): $1
• 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (again, a giant jar from Costco can be stored in the fridge forever): $1
• 1 lb. farfalle: $1
• 1/4 cup pine nuts (these things aren’t cheap anywhere, unfortunately): $2
• 4 oz. feta cheese: $2
• 1/4 cup olive oil: 22 cents
• 4 garlic cloves, minced: 4 cents
• 2 T lemon juice: 30 cents
• 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes: 2 cents
• Salt: 1 cent
TOTAL: $9.58/4 = $2.40/serving
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Prepare everything else, if you haven’t already.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat.
Heat the olive oil (you can also substitute some of the oil the sun-dried tomatoes were packed in, if you’re using oil-pakced tomatoes) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile flakes, cook just until garlic starts to brown.
Toss in the lemon juice. (It will sizzle somewhat violently. This is perfectly fine.) Add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking water. Add the pasta AND the cheese to the skillet with the other ingredients. Stir to combine, adding a little pasta water if things become too dry. It’s finished once the cheese is melted and everything is well combined.