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Escape turkey -- flee to Italy Basil: For a break from holiday food, there's nothing like sunny Mediterranean tastes.


In this holiday season of turkey for days, a robust pasta dish can come as a welcome respite. Susan Belsinger and Thomas DeBaggio bring us just that in their book, "Basil, an Herb Lover's Guide" (Interweave Press), which abounds with information and recipes centering on the world of basil.

Serve a salad with the meal and give it an Italian slant by adding some fresh shavings of fennel and toasted walnuts.

A warm and hearty dessert can be quickly concocted by halving and coring some apples and coating the inside with a bit of butter. Place on a baking sheet in a 425-degree oven while eating dinner. After 15 minutes, remove and fill the well with a rich fudge and hazelnut concoction, Nutella (found in most supermarkets).

Winter pasta with tomato basil sauce

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons just crumbled, dried basil

1/2 cup red wine or water

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped red onion

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 pound dried pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti

1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives

freshly grated Parmesan

In a large pot with a lid, bring water to boil for pasta. Add a tablespoon of salt.

Crumble the dried basil into the red wine.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste to the onion and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Add the wine and basil, stirring well to mix, and simmer until the pasta is al dente.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. Drain pasta and toss with the sauce. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil, add olives, toss and serve. Pass the Parmesan.

Per serving with 1 teaspoon Parmesan: 267 calories, 2 g saturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 34 g carbohydrates

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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