This unbelievably delicious Green Olive Pasta is filled with buttery castelvetrano olives, garlic, lemon, parmesan, and lots of fresh parsley and basil! This flavor-punch of a pasta dish gets topped with crunchy, toasted lemon herb breadcrumbs for an extra level of lemony brightness and texture. It’s a simple, incredibly flavorful, and undeniably special pasta to make for any weeknight dinner or date night!
If you’re usually an olive hater like me, just wait! The olives in this pasta are nothing like your typical Greek or black olives. These perfect little green nuggets are Castelvetrano olives, and they’re nothing like you’d expect. They’re buttery, super mild, meaty, perfectly salty, and just freaking delicious. They’re SO different from other olives, that I actually love them. Which is crazy for me to even say. And they do magical things to this olive pasta.
It’s something I could honestly eat once a week and never get sick of. It’s SO satisfying flavor-wise and texture-wise, and just the overall experience of this entire pasta is INSANE.
Also – it’s always nice to have a little something different from your typical red sauce or pesto. Something different, but not too difficult. And really freaking delicious. And that’s exactly what this is. All you need is a handful of simple ingredients, and some Castelvetrano olives and you’re in business.
If you’re like, where can I find these olives?
They’re actually pretty readily available anywhere. I get them at my local grocery store’s olive bar, and they have them on the shelf in jars too. I also sometimes get them at speciality grocery stores and Italian markets. But, you gotta make sure you use Castelvetrano olives for this pasta. It won’t be nearly the same if you use different olives!
Also, bonus points if you can find them already pitted! It will save you tons of time.
And honestly, the best Castelvetrano olives I’ve ever had, were at a restaurant in New York City called Via Carota. They give you a little ramekin of olives as a starter, and they quite honestly left me speechless. They were marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic, and who knows what other magical things, but they were life changing. And that experience inspired me to create this pasta for you guys!
Quite possibly the next most important part of this dream of a meal: toasted lemon breadcrumbs! It’s no secret that I love a good breadcrumb shower on my pasta (if you have my cookbook, you know this!), and these lemony breadcrumbs just take this dish to the next level.
Toasted lemon breadcrumbs might sound fancy, but they couldn’t be easier to make. All you do, is toast panko breadcrumbs in a skillet with some butter, and then stir in some lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and that’s it! They add SO much incredible texture, and bright lemony flavor to this dish. It’s honestly hard for me to eat pasta without some kind of breadcrumb topping at this point – they’re THAT good.
The real magic though, comes from sautéing the olives in butter, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. It makes them even more mellow, and infuses them with lots of garlicky goodness.
And when is that ever a bad thing?!
You wouldn’t believe the flavor and elegance that comes from just a few pantry staples and some olives. And it’s one of the simplest pastas I’ve ever made and/or created.
Here’s how you make it:
- Start by toasting up your lemon breadcrumbs. A little butter, a little panko, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. They’re magical and you’ll want to put them on everything you make.
- Cook your pasta. I love using bucatini here because I love the texture, but spaghetti or linguine would work great here too! Don’t forget to reserve your pasta water for the sauce! I always leave a heat-safe glass measuring cup or mug next to the stove so that I don’t forget!
- Sauté your Castelvetrano olives in olive oil, butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes. This step is crucial and I wish my kitchen smelled like that combination at all times!
- Toss your pasta with the olive mixture, pasta water, parm, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the toasted lemon breadcrumbs. So much brightness and flavor going on!
- Top it off with the rest of the breadcrumbs, and extra parm and herbs if you want!
See, so simple. I can hardly contain my excitement over how badly I want every single one of you to make this! And that goes for pretty much every recipe I share, but this one, this one is tops.
It’s SO PERFECT.
I’m so pumped to share the other two pastas I have planned for this week, and I honestly don’t know how to choose a fave. But if I absolutely HAD to, this olive pasta would be it. They are all sooooo good though. Get ready!
If you’re looking for more date night pastas to treat someone with:
Tagliatelle Carbonara with Crispy Mushrooms
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce
Pumpkin Kale Lasagna
Hidden Zucchini Mac and Cheese with Garlic Brown Butter Breadcrumbs
Garlic Roasted Tomato Red Lentil Pasta with Arugula and Toasted Pine Nuts
Creamy Lemon Pappardelle with Scallops
Lobster Mac and Cheese
Don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram and tag me @spicesinmydna if you make this recipe! Nothing makes me happier than seeing what you create in the kitchen!
Green Olive Pasta with Toasted Lemon Breadcrumbs
This unbelievably delicious Green Olive Pasta is filled with buttery castelvetrano olives, garlic, lemon, parmesan, and lots of fresh parsley and basil! This flavor-punch of a pasta dish gets topped with crunchy, toasted lemon herb breadcrumbs for an extra level of lemony brightness and texture. It's a simple, incredibly flavorful, and undeniably special pasta to make for any weeknight dinner or date night!
For the toasted lemon breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- zest of 1/4 a lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon zest)
- salt and pepper
For the pasta
- 1 pound bucatini, spaghetti, or linguine
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped*
- 1/2-3/4 cup pasta water*
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsely, chopped
- 1 cup basil leaves, coarsley chopped or torn
- salt and pepper
Begin by making the breadcrumbs. Heat the butter in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once melted, add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly until golden, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside and save the skillet for the olive sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta and salt the water. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet you used for the breadcrumbs and heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once butter has melted, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the olives and sauté, stirring frequently, watching so that the garlic doesn't burn, for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Remove from heat and aside.
Once water is boiling, cook your pasta until al dente. When it's almost finished cooking, scoop out your pasta water with a heat-safe measuring cup or mug. Drain pasta, and add back into the skillet with the olive mixture. Start by adding 1/2 cup pasta water to the skillet along with the parmesan cheese. Toss the pasta to combine with all of the oil, pasta water, and parm to create a sauce. Add half of the toasted lemon breadcrumbs, the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and basil and toss again until combined. Season the pasta with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Serve the pasta with the remaining breadcrumbs on top, along with extra parmesan and herbs if desired.
*Make sure you use Castelvatrano olives for this pasta. They're unlike any olive I've ever tried. Super mild, super buttery, and just incredible. I find them at my grocery store's olive bar, at specialty grocery stores, and Italian markets.
*It's so easy to forget to scoop out your pasta water - to ensure you don't forget, keep a mug or heat-safe glass measuring cup right next to the pot to remind you!
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