A Family-Friendly Recipe for Dave and Lynn

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Dave and Lynn had a baby recently, a new brother for their three-year-old. And I’m reminded again about how much effort it takes to feed a family while working and dealing with childcare.

When Dave and his brother were growing up, we managed to cook practically every night, between Steve and me. We couldn’t afford an au pair or other daily support, so Steve and I did the cooking together or took turns, after an often-stressful day at the office.

Special Fork was created as a way to help families struggling to put dinner on the table. And while we try to make all dishes as simple as possible, some fit the bill for busy parents better than others.

To be really useful, recipes need:

  • Few ingredients
  • Minimal prep
  • Minimal cooking time
  • Easy clean up
  • Be child-friendly (which depends on your child—so many have sophisticated tastes in food these days)

Here’s a dish I made last week that should fill the bill. Estimate 15 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to cook if you boil the penne while the tomatoes are in the oven. There isn’t much clean up—it uses one baking dish and one pasta pot, plus a cutting board, knife, measuring cups and a spoon for stirring.

There are just seven ingredients. And if you’re like me, you already have garlic, olive oil, penne and Kalamata olives (canned or in jars) in your pantry.

This is a wonderful summer recipe when cherry tomatoes and basil are thriving. I bought my produce at the farmers’ market on Saturday.

My three-year-old granddaughter would love to help by plucking the basil leaves and crumbling the feta cheese. It’s an easy, safe and not-too-messy way to involve children in prepping for dinner.

Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Olives
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound penne
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup loosely packed small basil leaves or torn larger leaves
Red pepper flakes, optional

Heat over to 400°F. In a 9- X 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, add tomatoes, garlic, oil and salt. Toss together, spread in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked and turn jammy in texture.

About ten minutes after the tomatoes go into the oven, start boiling water and cook penne according to package directions. You want to time this step so the penne is done when the tomatoes are done. Drain penne.

When tomatoes are roasted, remove from the oven and add drained penne to the baking dish, a little at a time, tossing to coat penne with the sauce. Add feta and olives and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Add basil leaves and toss to combine thoroughly. Serve with red pepper flakes, if desired.

If you have any leftovers, chill and serve as a salad the next day.

Makes 4 servings.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Posted: Jul 17th by Sandy_Hu