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Go Italian: Bring on the tomatoes.

Byline: The $10 Gourmet by Jim Boyd The Register-Guard

GREG FLOWER, the culinary manager for the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant in Eugene, demonstrates how to make an appetizer and a pasta for today's edition of The $10 Gourmet.

Both Bruschetta Pomodoro and Capellini Pomodoro utilize the fresh tomatoes that will be more and more abundant here in the weeks ahead.

Eaten together, the bruschetta and the pasta provide a light but filling vegetarian meal, one that's perfect on a hot summer day. Topping the pasta with slices of sauteed chicken breast or sausage would make it heartier fare, Flower said.

"Tomatoes are fresh and in season at this time of year," Flower said, explaining the reasoning behind the meal. "Freshness is part of Italian culture and it needs to be part of ours, too. While we can get fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery year around, you want to take advantage of it while they are at their peak.

"Additionally, the weather dictates it to me, too. I mean, it's very hot outside," he said as he prepared the dishes last week. "This is a very light dish and people will enjoy it in this type of weather. Plus the fact that it's very quick to make. At this time of year, people don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen."

Flower did his shopping at Albertsons. The cash-register receipt shows he paid $6.16 for the ingredients he used. In addition, he used the following items from his kitchen: fresh basil, olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

The $10 Gourmet is a biweekly feature designed to allow professional chefs to pass along menu suggestions to home cooks. The chef does this by cooking a meal for two that costs no more than $10. Small amounts of ingredients commonly found in a home kitchen do not have to be tallied in the cost.

A 1978 graduate of Lowell High School who earned a hotel and restaurant degree from Oregon State University, Flower has made a career in the restaurant business. He managed Lyons restaurants for 17 years, served as general manager for Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Restaurant in Eugene for a couple of years and, for the past two years, has worked as kitchen manager at the Olive Garden in Eugene.

In February, the Olive Garden sent Flower to Italy for a two-week workshop at the Olive Garden Riserva di Fizzano restaurant and the Culinary Institute of Tuscany, both located in a restored 11th century village in Tuscany.

Here are his recipes:

Italian Tomatoes Two Ways

7 to 8 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped medium fine

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice from a wedge of lemon

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients and allow to stand, refrigerated, preferably overnight.

For the Pomodoro Bruschetta:

8 slices, approximately 1/4 inch thick, of ciabatta bread

Olive oil

1 cup (approximately) of the chopped tomato mixture

Brush slices of ciabatta with olive oil and place under a broiler to toast. When toasted, remove slices to a plate and serve with a bowl of the tomato mixture for each person to spoon onto the toasted slices of bread.

For the Pomodoro Capellini:

Remaining tomato mixture (approximately 2 cups)

1/2 pound (4 ounces per person) dry or fresh capellini (angel hair pasta), boiled according to package directions (about 4 minutes for dry pasta)

Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Place the tomato mixture in a saute pan and heat until juices flow and the pieces of tomato are softened.

Meanwhile, cook and drain the pasta. Move tomato pieces to one side of the pan. Put the pasta into the other side of the pan so it becomes coated with the juice. Serve pasta topped with the chopped tomato from the pan. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese or pass a container of cheese at the table.

Note: When cooking angel hair pasta, it's important that you layer the pasta in the boiling water and stir within 30 seconds to keep the strands of pasta from sticking together, Flower said.


Ciabatta bread: $2.49

Capellini (angel hair) pasta: $1.99

Roma tomatoes: 89 cents

Lemon: 79 cents

Total: $6.16


Greg Flower uses seasonal tomatoes to create a light meal that includes an appetizer and a pasta dish: Bruschetta Pomodoro and Capellini Pomodoro. CHRIS PIETSCH / The Register-Guard CHRIS PIETSCH / The Register-Guard Greg Flower prepares Pomodoro Bruschetta using ciabatta bread brushed with olive oil, broiled and served with tomato mixture.
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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 21, 2002
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