Two-cheese Hot Giardiniera Pasta

Becoming a mom means you will learn to cook pasta 1001 ways since kids loooove starchy foods. That’s because: 1) starch has a fairly sweet yet neutral taste; and 2) it relieves hunger pangs faster than any other food, something munchkins quickly catch on to. Mind you, anything that fills you up pronto clinches the deal when your stomach is fist-size and you’re growing at warp speed.

That said, I get fed up with the ubiquitous tomato sauce, and I’m not into cream sauces. So with time, I have developed a few tricks to cook super tasty pasta without actual “sauce”. Like my two-cheese giardiniera pasta. Classic giardiniera is a mix of vegetables marinated in oil and vinegar, most frequently cauliflower, carrot, celery, zucchini and onions. It can be mild or hot. Over time, it has become the usual suspect in antipasto platters, and you may find jars of it literally labeled antipasto in stores. Also delicious as a pizza topping, it is the centerpiece of the famed muffuletta sandwich.

While I sometimes get the feeling kiddo may be the only cheese-and-butter naysayer in the Western World — no, not even Ficello! —, first time I served this, he actually stole all the feta from surrounding plates. So things are looking up for ze picky eater. Maybe.

Here then is my favourite summer pasta recipe. As the man said after the first bite: Surprising!


  • 1. The day before or even a few days ahead of time (at least 30 minutes is a must…), combine marinated vegetables, their liquid, feta cheese and olives in a bowl. Cover and chill to marinate, or let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • 2. Cook pasta, drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add vegetable mix, diced tomato, parmesan and fine herbs, if desired. Season to taste and mix well.
  • 3. Taste to see if pasta is sufficiently coated with vegetable and feta “sauce”. If not, add a few swigs of olive oil. Enjoy.