When my daughter was small, we were living in Greece, in an airy, second-floor apartment in suburban Athens, a suburb called Ano Glyphada with a view of the Saronic Gulf from the long windows. I shopped almost every week in the local street market, where vendors from little farms and orchards out in the country set up on one day a week. By custom, the municipality blocked off a two or three block-long stretch of street, and the vendors came with their little tables and awnings, to sell produce fresh from the country, although the farmer who came with ancient deuce-and-a-half truck full of potatoes just dumped the potatoes in a pile on the street, and weighed them out with a battered old-fashioned shop scale, which likely had been around since the Ottoman Empire. Everything for sale in the weekly market was fresh off the vine, the tree, stalk or in the case of the potatoes, just out of the dirt, with crumbled fresh earth still clinging to them. In fact, the vegetables and eggs available from the weekly market were so superior and augmented by feta cheese and yoghurt from the local supermarket and bread from a nearby bakery, that we went vegetarian for days and weeks on end. Therefore, one of my most-used cookbooks was Nava Atlas’ Vegetariana – which I think I must have bought from the Quality Paperback Book Club. (I belonged to a lot of book clubs then, and received book catalogs galore, as I was most often stationed in places without English-language bookstores – and this, Oh Best Beloved, was way before the advent of Amazon, et cetera.)

One of our favorite dishes from Vegetariana was this one – Rotelle Pasta with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Basil, especially with fresh basil from my balcony garden, and with blissfully fresh tomatoes.

Simmer until al dente – ½ lb rotelle pasta, and when done, drain and set aside.

Sautee in 1 TBsp olive oil – until softened, not browned

1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 medium sweet red bell pepper sliced in julienne strips

Add and stir until they just lose their raw quality

1 lb ripe tomatoes, diced

Stir in

½ cup firmly packed chopped fresh basil leaves

¾ pound marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 TBsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the sauteed vegetables with the cooked pasta and 1 ½ diced mozzarella or gruyere cheese. Serve at once, with toasted French bread slices on the side.


I totally wore out my original copy of Vegetariana sometime in the 1990s and had to replace it with a newer edition.


  1. Toward the end of the recipe, it calls for “1 1/2 diced mozzarella or gruyere cheese”. So, 1 1/2 what? Cups? Cheeses? Kilos? Ounces?

  2. 1 1/2 cups.