Pasta alle Olive

Pasta alle olive
Apparently I am on a pasta kick this week. Oh the crosses I have to bear for this site.

One of the many reasons I love Italian cuisine is its exquisite simplicity. There are no special techniques one has to master. Recipes come down to using the best ingredients in the best possible way.

I say that, discovering a new dressing for pasta: The mushroom/olive connection. It took all my strength to not eat the dressing straight out of the sauce pan. The mushrooms provide a sweet, earthy taste, while the green olives provide a bit of tartness. The red pepper flakes? Just because.

For the green olives – find olives that have a strong olive taste. I know that sounds obvious, but many bottled olives carry the stronger taste of the brine in which the olives are stored, and you should avoid that as much as possible. Rinsing your olives in either cold water or even milk should take care of that.

Oh, and no stuffed olives either. Unless you’re feeling particularly wacky.

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1/4 t chili pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 3 T fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large pot, bring 4 qts of water to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, pepper flakes and garlic, stirring occasionally till the mushrooms are lightly browned and soft. Turn heat down to low and allow to simmer until pasta water comes to a boil. Stir often.

When the pasta water boils, add spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the box.

Meanwhile, place olives, parsley, and cooked mushrooms in a food processor. Pulse 5-7 times, looking for a coarse consistency. Return the mixture to the sauce pan, and raise the heat to medium. Add cream and cheese and fold in. Add a ladle of pasta water in order to make the dressing more ‘fluid’. Cook until pasta is complete.

When pasta is done cooking, drain well and place in a large serving bowl. Pour olive/mushroom sauce over top of the pasta and dress well. Plate and serve.

Serves 6


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