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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!

Course Main, Main Course, Pasta, Side, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword garlic olive oil pasta, green olive pasta, lemon olive pasta, olive pasta, pasta breadcrumbs, pasta with breadcrumbs, pasta with breadcrumbs and lemon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Molly | Spices in My DNA


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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

*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!