I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow my picky preschooler is all about olives. So, inspired by her, I decided to combine two of her favorite foods, pasta and olives, to make this Spaghetti with Toasted Almond and Green Olive Pesto.
You can invest in some fancy olives for this recipe–castelvetrano, for example–but you can totally just go with your run-of-the-mill green olives with pimentos. They’re nice and briny, and since they’re pulsed into a pesto anyway, you don’t need to impress anyone.
To amp up the flavor, I also add toasted almonds, flat-leaf parsley, and some lemon zest. Everything gets combined in your food processor–although I call this green olive pesto, it’s really more like a gremolata in texture. You don’t want a completely smooth sauce; instead, you just want all the components to be finely chopped when you’re done. If you’re cooking for adults, a few pinches of red pepper flakes would be fabulous too; since I make this for my kiddo, I stick with freshly cracked black pepper instead.
If you’re not on a plant-based diet, you can add some grated parmesan cheese just before serving or, to round out the meal, toss the pasta with roasted cauliflower too.
Photos by Ana Stanciu
Spaghetti with Toasted Almond and Green Olive Pesto
If you like olives, you'll love this simple weeknight pasta recipe.
- 8 ounces dry spaghetti
- 1 cup green olives with pimentos small, not jumbo!
- 1/3 cup toasted almonds
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Zest from 1 small lemon
- Salt to taste
- A few grinds of freshly cracked black peppercorns
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions; pour into a colander to strain away liquid, but allow a little bit of the liquid to cling to the noodles.
While the spaghetti is cooking, make the pesto by combining all of the remaining ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop--you don't want it as smooth as pesto, but you don't want to have large pieces either. It should have some texture!
Combine the spaghetti and olive mixture in a serving bowl and use tongs to toss until the spaghetti is evenly coated. Divide onto plates and serve.