Knoxville church helps homeless families with prize-winning pasta recipe

Knoxville church helps homeless families with prize-winning pasta recipe

Ebenezer provides pasta perfection for Family Promise. Pictured counter-clockwise from upper left-hand corner: Chef Al Jackson; Rev. Nancy Twigg and Sue Petrie; just yum.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  (Sept. 22, 2015) -- It’s not often that a church publication gets to run a recipe page.

But when Ebenezer United Methodist Church won the Family Promise “Crowd Pleaser Award” for a delicious dish featuring olives, peppers, feta and bowtie pasta … well, we couldn’t resist.

Ebenezer’s noodle concoction was one of 16 entries at the “Pasta Cook-off” fundraiser hosted by Family Promise of Knoxville on Aug. 21. The event was held at Central Bearden Baptist Church and was attended by about 400 people, raising more than $51,000 to help “get families and children into safe and sustainable housing,” according to Mary Thomson LeMense, executive director.

Several Knoxville-area churches partner with Family Promise to help homeless families, LeMense said, including Ebenezer, Trinity, Bearden, Fountain City, Rutherford Memorial, Church Street, and First Farragut. “We would certainly like to have more.”

As for the crowd-dazzling dish entitled “Al’s Pasta Salad Supreme,” it was provided by Al Jackson, well-known for delighting Ebenezerites with his culinary creations for many years. More than 30 Ebenezer members helped prepare, serve or slurp the award-winning noodles. 

“Here’s the single recipe,” said Jackson. “I made 12 times this amount for the cook-off.”

1# rotini or bowtie pasta, cooked al dente in salted water, drained
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded
1 small container grape tomatoes (12 oz.), halved
1 tsp. salt
6 oz. Kalamata and black olives, pitted
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper (milder, sweeter flavor than green)
Optional: 2-3 diced jalapenos
4-6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 pkg. spicy Italian dry salad-dressing mix
1 tbs. Penzeys Green Goddess Dry Salad Dressing mix (optional, but very good)
1 tbs. water
1/3 cup cider vinegar (red-wine vinegar is tasty but will color the pasta)
2/3 cup salad oil
> Peel and seed cucumber; dice and put into colander.
> Wash and half the tomatoes; add to colander with cucumber. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon salt, mix and leave to drain until preparation is completed. (Salting and draining removes a lot of water and enhances flavor.)
>Put pasta into pot with 2 quarts water and a handful of salt. Bring to boil and cook about 9 minutes until al dente.
> Slice the olives and add to a large bowl.
> Wash, seed, and dice pepper and add to bowl.
> In a shakable, sealed container, mix 1 tablespoon Penzeys Green Goddess Dry Salad Dressing Mix with 1 tablespoon water and let sit for 5 minutes. Add 1 package spicy Italian dry salad dressing mix, 1/3 cup vinegar, and 2/3 cup oil.
> Shake until well mixed. Shake frequently during prep time to emulsify more fully.
> Drain the pasta, add to bowl.
> Add feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and salad dressing. Mix well. Refrigerate 2-3 hours. Enjoy!



Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.