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Pasta Bentoni

Pasta Bentoni

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Serves 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; an original recipe.

Pasta Bentoni is named after a dear friend and excellent cook, Florence Benton, who died a few years ago. She was very Italian and she inspired me to better cooking. This dish is easy and there is room for experimentation. Test different ingredients. I want to try sun dried tomatoes and/or artichoke hearts in this dish. This is an excellent recipe for those who like to be spontaneous in the kitchen. Be creative.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil for frying
1 large onion (12 to 14 ounces/340 to 390g)
2 to 3 anchovy fillets
3 to 4 cloves garlic; minced or crushed with a garlic press
12 to 15 olives; pitted and minced (you can mix and match varieties of olives)
1 rounded tablespoon capers; rinsed
¼ teaspoon oregano
6 to 8 sprigs fresh Italian parsley; leaves only (more for garnish) finely chopped
15 to 20 fresh basil leaves; finely chopped or sliced into julienne or chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 pound (454g) linguine, spaghetti, or other pasta
Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish
Optional: Generous dash or two of red pepper flakes

Directions:

Peel and cut the onion in half from top to bottom, then slice across the grain into crescents. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cover the pan. Cook 10 minutes, remove cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking (reduce the heat to low if necessary), another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are caramelized. They will be a golden color.

Meanwhile, be heating the water for the pasta. When boiling, add about a tablespoon of salt with the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Add the anchovies and garlic to the onions and cook 1 or 2 minutes, stirring to break up the anchovies. They will dissolve into the mixture and add complexity to the flavor without a fishy taste. Crush the pitted olives with a garlic crusher and add to the onions with the capers, oregano, parsley, and basil (and, optional, red pepper flakes). Cook less than a minute and remove from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Go light with the salt if using Romano cheese for garnish later. It tends to be salty.) Finally, add the ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and stir.

Drain the cooked pasta and add to the onion mixture. Stir and turn until thoroughly coated. Plate and garnish with additional chopped parsley if desired. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese at the table.