Grad’s Pantry Pasta

pasta with blossomsweb

My friend Grad in Savannah sent me this recipe months ago, but somehow or other it took me a while to make it. She says she always has the ingredients in her pantry. Unfortunately, they weren’t all in mine. The pasta was particularly hard to find. I tried numerous local grocery stores and finally gave up and ordered bucatini from

Bucatini are long, thick strands of pasta that are slightly hollow inside—sort of like lengths of thick pipe. They hold their shape beautifully in the sauce. The word “buco” means hole in Italian; hence the name. Bucatini will be a staple of my pantry from now on.

Here’s what Grad had to say about her dish:

This is one of those things my eldest son loved so much when I made it years ago, he now makes it himself, adding what he has on hand. Rather than a recipe, I think of it more a road map that allows side trips. Leftover shrimp? In it goes. Clam juice? Why not? A little bit of chicken broth left over from yesterday? Absolutely. How about that leftover asparagus? Or those little cherry tomatoes you want to use? You get my drift. As far as I’m concerned, as long as you have the anchovies, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, pepper flakes, olive oil and perciatelli (or bucatini) you can’t go wrong.

I hope you make this dish. It is even better the next day and I love it cold! Keep the basic ingredients in your pantry (along with a nice bottle of red wine) and you are ready for any foodie emergency—or for when you need a hug.

My minor additions (bell pepper and fresh asparagus) are noted below. With asparagus season over, I think I’ll try the pasta next time with a little sautéed zucchini and some tiny tomatoes. And broccoli would be divine in the fall. After all, we need hugs in many seasons….


Grad’s Pasta


1 lb. bucatini or perciatelli (if both are available, Grad prefers the the bucatini, but either will do)
salt to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6 peeled garlic cloves, minced (or more)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced (added by Tinky)
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more if you like things hot
3 to 4 flat anchovies packed in oil (I chopped these up)
1 6-ounce. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 4-ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in oil
1-1/2 cups blanched asparagus pieces (added by Tinky)
2 tablespoons of oil from the tomatoes
Parmigiana-Reggino or Grana Padano cheese to taste


Put the pasta on to boil in boiling, salted water. Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion gently until soft. Add the garlic and bell pepper; cook gently until they soften as well. Try not to brown the garlic.

Add the anchovies and cook gently until they disappear into the other ingredients. Sprinkle in the pepper flakes and heat them for a minute or so. Drain the artichokes, reserving the marinade. Slice them thickly, and add them to the skillet. Slice the sun dried tomatoes into thin strips, and add them to the skillet with 2 tablespoons of the oil in which they were packed. Cook gently. Stir in the asparagus pieces. Taste and sprinkle with a little salt if needed. (I just waited and added salt at the table since people like differing degrees of saltniness.)

Add a little of the artichoke marinade to the mixture. Taste and correct seasonings. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and bring the mixture to a boil to reduce it slightly. (At this point, Grad sometimes adds 1/2 cup of bottled clam juice or chicken broth. They are not essential, however.) When the pasta is al dente, take it out of the water with a pasta fork and add it to the skillet to finish cooking. Toss everything together with tongs. If it is needed, add a little pasta water one ladle at a time, tossing between additions, until the mixture is a nice saucy consistency. Take the pasta mixture off the heat, and sprinkle cheese on top.

Serves 4 to 6.

If you look closely at the pasta at the front of this picture, you'll see the little hole inside.

If you look closely at the pasta at the front of this picture, you’ll see the little hole inside.

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7 Responses to “Grad’s Pantry Pasta”

  1. You’re too young. One cannot exclaim, “Brava, Mama Tinky!” but perhaps “Brava, Fanciulla Tinky”? Your photographs, complete with the requisite checkered tablecloths, are lovely and even as I type this at an ungodly early hour, I sense my appetite awaken. You’re becoming the Richard Avedon of bucatini. That snowflakes appear to be falling across the web site (or am I losing my mind?) underscores how perfect these dishes are both now and in six months when the snowflakes are real. Thank you for posting a great way to incorporate the odds and ends from the garden for a relatively quick and clearly appealing, elegant meal.

  2. tinkyweisblat says:

    You flatter me, as always, Flaneur. But the dish was pretty snappy–and pretty tasty!

  3. tut-tut says:

    I happen to have bucatini in my cupboard and will make this tonight. I have a little pamphlet of recipes from Grey Poupon mustard (back when companies gave away little niceties) and it features a pasta salad recipe with similar ingredients.

  4. E. Sheppard says:

    Brava from me too. I love your blog! The bucatini looks scrumptious.

  5. tinkyweisblat says:

    Nifty, tut-tut and E. I particularly enjoyed not having to cook very long (or put the oven on!).

  6. Grad says:

    What?? No bucatini? One must really do something about that because it’s part of the fun, n’est-ce pas? Or should I say non è corretto? I really do love making this dish at this time of year because, as I said, it is marvelous cold. With a little tweeking it can be made uniquely ones own. Unfortunately, I’ve sworn off carbs for awhile so….sigh.

  7. tinkyweisblat says:

    Thanks for the kudos, tut-tut and E. And good for you, Grad. As for the bucatini, it would be nice to have them around the corner–but it’s so lovely here I don’t mind. After all, the internet is everywhere!

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