Pino’s Pasta

By Pia Hinckle

My Calabrian friend Pino made this dish during a visit to California in 1999. This is a traditional southern Italian pasta made with fresh tomatoes, olives, capers, and basil. Now I make it every summer during the height of tomatoes season.


  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Ten medium ripe fresh tomatoes (any kind)
  • 1/2  jar Kalamata or Greek olives in brine (pitted)
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • One medium red onion
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Basil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pepperoncini (dried chili pepper), if desired


  1. Put on a  large pot of water to boil; add a handful of salt.
  2. Core and chop tomatoes. (If you prefer to peel them, drop the tomatoes in boiling pasta water until the skin splits, then remove them with a slotted spoon, run under cool water, peel skin off, then chop.)
  3. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  4. In a large skillet, or pot large enough to add the cooked pasta, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. (If you like a spicy dish, add a dried whole pepperoncino to the onions just before the tomatoes.)
  5. When translucent, add tomatoes, stirring regularly.
  6. Drain the olives from their brine and add to the tomatoes.
  7. Cook on medium to medium-low heat until the tomatoes have lost most of their water and the sauce begins to thicken about 15 minutes.
  8. Bring the pasta water to a high boil and add the pasta.
  9. Simmer sauce and stir occasionally.
  10. Cook pasta until al dente.
  11. Add a tablespoon or two of drained capers and some chopped basil to the tomatoes; stir well.
  12. Drain pasta when cooked and add to the tomato sauce.
  13. Toss well.
  14. Serve immediately with fresh basil as garnish and grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-5.

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