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Date Pasta

[No, not “date” as in “dried fruit with pit and high sugar content.”  I mean “date” as in the classic Saturday night event, “evening out with someone you like and with whom you might like to be, um, romantic.” ]

It’s been a whirlwind weekend, first, with a birthday dinner (THANKS for all those amazing well-wishes, everyone!) followed immediately by a wedding (the birthday dinner featured the HH and me; the wedding did not).  More on both next time, once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath.  Today, I’m just as excited to tell you about Date Pasta instead.

When we were undergrads in our 20s, one of the things that welded the friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was our singleton status.  No matter how many relationships and breakups the rest of our friends experienced, and no matter how many blind dates, dating services, personal ads, university parties or fix-ups we two endured, Sterlin and I somehow managed to remain perpertually alone (well, I guess technically we weren’t “alone,” since we spent most Saturday nights with each other–but you know what I mean). 

Being permanently unattached until our mid-twenties (okay, fine, late twenties) didn’t mean we ever stopped trying, however. This pasta dish was Sterlin’s go-to recipe pretty much every time she wished to impress a potential boyfriend, or every time she scored a second date.  It was quick, it was easy, it was foolproof, guys seemed to like it, and–most important–it was the only dish she knew how to make. 

The guys in question, upon being served the pasta, would inevitably utter an appropriately impressed response, then spend an engaging evening drinking wine, gobbling up the pasta, and raving about how good it was, before leaving and never calling again. (What’s up with that, anyway?  Was it something we said?  Was it our nerdy demeanor?  Were they just not that into us? Or were they perhaps paralyzed by our incomparable wit, intelligence and (reasonably) good looks? I guess we’ll never know. ) Despite its inability to produce a lasting relationship, Date Pasta was so good that Sterlin kept making it throughout our university career.  

In fact, I was also so impressed with the dish (and ever hopeful about the fact that guys seemed to like it) that I asked for the recipe, and proceeded to cook it up dozens of times myself over the years.  It wasn’t until the HH and I were happily ensconced in our current long-term relationship and sharing the same abode that I dared to cook it for him. 

And then–magically–when the HH ate it, the curse was broken; he was able to love Date Pasta, and still love me, too.  

I hadn’t eaten Date Pasta in years, though.  First of all, the HH and I no longer go on “dates” (well, I suppose you could say our weekly sushi lunch together might qualify, but still). More importantly, however, the ingredient list of the original recipe contained spicy capicola salami, cut into cubes and flash-fried along with the other ingredients.  These days, I feel about salami sort of the same way I feel about steak.  When I altered my diet ten years ago, I placed the recipe in a file folder, and forgot about it. 

This past week, the HH’s friend the Engineering Guru came over for dinner.  Could it be that he resembled a guy I fancied in high school?  Or maybe it was that he’s tall and strapping and I know he, like the HH, is an avid meat eater?  Whatever the reason, Date Pasta came to mind.  The HH even remembered it from our early days and enthusiastically coerced browbeat badgered encouraged me to whip it up again.  So I did what I often do when cooking for the HH and me: I made a huge batch of the recipe in a meatless format I could enjoy, then let the guys add their own meat to their portions. 

Why did I never think of this before?  All these years, I’ve been avoiding Date Pasta, and missing out on this remarkably easy and delicious dinner! It’s so chock full of pungent, toothsome, salty and briny add-ins that it almost doesn’t need the pasta, and certainly doesn’t require the meat.  Who knows?  Maybe if I’d made it this way from the start, I’d have had more success in those early dateless years.  (Then again, I would never have enjoyed all those Saturday nights with Sterlin).  And so, Date Pasta, welcome back (can’t say that I miss the singleton status, though).

Oh, and now that I’ve finally made another pasta dish, I’m happy to submit this to Melissa at The Cooking Diva, who’s hosting Presto Pasta Nights, the weekly event originated by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Date (or any other occasion) Pasta

While this is great as is, if you’re craving a meat stand-in, I think this pasta would be phenomenal with some cubed, smoked tofu as well.

1/2 large onion, sliced thin in half-moon strips

8 (yes, 8 ) cloves garlic, cut in quarters

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound (225 g.) button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 can artichoke hearts, lightly drained (keep about 2 Tbsp./30 ml. of the liquid), halved

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) capers, with some juice

1/3 cup (80 ml.) green and kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half

1 roasted red pepper, sliced thin

1/2-3/4 cup (120-180 ml.) grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup (120 ml.) tomato sauce or juice (optional)

linguine, enough for 4 people, cooked until just al dente

nutritional yeast, ground nuts (pine nuts are great for this), or chopped fresh parsley

While your pasta cooks, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the chunks of garlic begin to brown.  Add the mushrooms, artichoke hearts, capers, and olives; lower heat, cover and simmer 5-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the mushrooms begin to give off a bit of liquid.  Add the pepper, tomatoes, and tomato sauce, if using, and cover and simmer for 5 more minutes, until flavors have melded. 

Drain the pasta about 2 minutes before it has reached perfect doneness (if you like it al dente, stop a couple of minutes before it reaches this texture).  Drain the pasta and, while it’s still dripping, immediately toss it into the pot with the sauce ingredients.  Toss to coat the pasta (there should still be some liquid in the bottom of the pot; if there isn’t, add about 1/4 cup water).  Cover the pot and simmer 2 more minutes, stirring once or twice, until the pasta is perfectly cooked and has soaked up some of the liquid (it will also absorb some color from the sauce).  Toss again and serve with a generous grinding of pepper and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, ground nuts, or chopped parsley.  Serves 4.


32 comments to Date Pasta

  • Hehe – what a cute post. I think my equivalent of date pasta is fried rice – pretty much foolproof, and guys love it. I usually make things meatless and then add the meat at the end to Bobby’s portion. It’s not so bad 🙂


  • Courtney

    Ha ha ha–when I first read the title of the post, I TOTALLY thought you were talking about pasta made from dates! I was both intrigued and a little grossed out at the same time! I *love* dates, but cannot imagine a pasta made out of them!

    I can see how this meal would be a great one to impress the guys–even without the meat. It looks very hearty and satisfying!



  • Awww, hooray for you AND DH liking the Date Pasta.

    And just for the record, I LOVE those high-sugar-content dates 😀


  • I love the idea of date pasta. How cute! It sounds delicious and very simple to make. Good thing I’m married because with 8 cloves of garlic, I don’t think Marty would have wanted to stick around for a second date though. 😉


  • I like the name – although at first I thought there were sweet dates involved and was intrigued. Looks like a great quick dish for when you are focusing on other things (or people) – I guess the HH proved that it wasn’t the pasta that was the problem! But chemistry is still a mystery to me.


  • I totally thought you were talking about the fruit! And now that you put the idea in my head, I’m wondering what that would taste like… I bet it’d be good. Hey, I love savory oatmeal, so why not sweet pasta?


  • great story! and a lovely dish indeed, glad you were “able” to make it again 🙂 here’s to many more enjoyable date nights! *wink*


  • I love romance and dates (both the kind I eat and the I kind I go on with my husband) *grin*

    Awesome photo!



  • hooray for dates! both the fruit and the romantic type. the dish looks absolutely stunning, and the post is stellar, as always.


  • Cute post,you had me there for a few seconds,was wondering how dates would taste with pasta…the pasta looks hearty and yum 🙂


  • you’re too funny…and that sounds seriously yummy!!!


  • Artichoke hearts, capers and olives – I could fall in love with this for keeps. : )


  • Your post is funny and delicious. Artichoke hearts AND olives AND roasted peppers AND capers? Ooh la la.


  • Jes

    Oh my gosh, I can’t believe the boys didn’t fall at your feet begging to be let into your harem. That pasta looks, sounds, and I can almost taste it in my mouth, amazing!


  • That is one tempting pasta dish indeed! No meat required at all.


  • Yep, with you writing a dessert book I thought you had made a sweet pasta.

    You know I pretty much like spaghetti stuff without meat, cheese, AND noodles. Your sauce looks really chunky and delicious.

    Those silly college boys weren’t worthy of your fabulous food and conversation.


  • Yay! I’m glad the curse is broken! This looks amazingly good and simple. I think I will be having (gluten-free) pasta tonight for dinner!



  • beautiful photos! I am putting this on my list to try.


  • Yep, uni guys are jerks. For the most part 🙂 Actually, guys in general… *ahem*.
    ANYWAY, lovely pics.


  • Everyone,
    Sorry if I threw you with the “date” pasta–though CCV, interesting idea 🙂 I’m now thinking of a baked pasta casserole with dates. . . upcoming post! 🙂

    I love the fried rice version! And hey, if guys love it. . .!!!

    Vivacious Vegan,
    Seriously, once they’re browned, the garlic cloves sort of caramelize and they are not garlicky at all. But then again, maybe THAT explains why all those guys were turned off so long ago–!!

    Hmm. If it wasn’t the pasta, then–? But yes, chemistry is definitely a big mystery! 😉

    Thanks for your comment! I’d have to agree that both kinds of dates are great. I’ll have to aim for more of the non-fruit kind. 🙂

    Aww, thanks. Looking back, I think it had more to do with me than the boys, though!

    Thanks so much for your comment! I’ve not tried it with GF pasta, but I’m sure it would be just as delish. 🙂

    Yep, I’ve been there. 😉 As my mentor once said, men have to be over 40 to be mature enough to be likable, or something like that (he was just about 40 at the time, as I recall).


  • Ha, I’m glad you immediately clarified the title, because that’s the first thing I though of and was kind of weirded out! This sounds MUCH better than pasta with dried dates in it!


  • gail

    I love the story behind the dish!


  • Ricki,
    Date pasta looks like a keeper. I enjoyed your story. I LOVE your stories!


  • Your posts and stories are so engaging! I find myself wanting to sit back with a cup of coffee and a scone while I read your blog. Pure awesomeness!
    Thank you for sharing the Date Pasta recipe, and I’m glad it’s not cursed anymore! 🙂


  • giz

    Gee Ricki, I would eat this with you and I promise, I won’t even call it a date.


  • Oh…cause when I first read the title I was thinking dried fruit with pit and then Ewwww! 🙂 But after looking closer I know I’d love this Date Pasta and I can’t think of what you need the meat for with all of those full flavored ingredients. Sounds completely delicious!


  • Congratulations Ricki!
    You won one of my Peppermint Ritter Sport bars! Now I just need you to send me your address. My email is ameyfm at yahoo dot com



  • ahh yes, there is definatly something romantic about pasta… I’ll go on a date with you if you make this for me 🙂


  • Definitely a great dish…date or no. And how dumb were those guys anyway?

    Thanks for sharing a great post and a great recipe with Presto Pasta Nights.


  • Sterlin

    Well, it has been a while but oh how the memories came flooding back. I haven’t made this dish in many many years and will give it another try. This time, it will be for my kids…will they gobble it up and never call? Not likely, or at least not while I am paying the bills.

    Thanks for the memories!


  • […] to woo our guys with food (the way to a man’s heart, and all that).  So Sterlin developed Date Pasta as her staple, while I attempted to perfect an ideal chocolate cheesecake, or brownie, or even […]

  • I have to admit. I was disappointed to learn the true meaning of “date” in this context.

    I want high-sugar fruit with pit pasta. I want it now.


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