Double down on the olive oil flavor in this dish by warming a generous amount with torn green olives to dress your pasta. While you can use just one kind of olive, like mild Castelvetrano, a variety will create depth of flavor. Adding chopped walnuts provides texture and a nice dose of protein to this vegan dish, while lemon zest and juice perk everything up. It would also be good with soft herbs like oregano, dill or basil, a salty cheese like feta or Parmesan, or shrimp that's been cooked with the pasta in the last few minutes of boiling.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1pound short pasta, like orecchiette, cavatelli, fusilli or elbows
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2cups chopped walnuts
- 1 ¼cups Castelvetrano olives (or a mixture of green olives), pitted and torn
- 1small garlic clove, peeled
- 1lemon, zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons juice)
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water’s boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain.
Step 2While the pasta’s cooking, in a large Dutch oven, stir together the olive oil, walnuts and olives. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and the walnuts are toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, finely grate in the garlic clove and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
Step 3Add the pasta and 1/4 cup pasta water to the walnut mixture. Cook over medium-low, stirring and adding pasta water as needed, until the pasta is well coated. Remove from heat and stir in half the lemon zest and all the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon zest.