Pasta With Feta and Green Olives
Swimming in bold, briny and tangy flavors, this 15-minute pasta is full of personality. Similar to the process of infusing oil with lemon, garlic and other aromatics to marinate olives in, this recipe uses a fragrant oil to make a quick pasta sauce. Olives are slightly blistered in the oil first, drawing their brininess out, then crumbled feta is stirred into the pasta at the end until melty. Keep the feta chunky when breaking apart the squares so that they become soft and creamy, tasting almost like baked feta. Castelvetrano olives are best here for their meaty texture and gentle flavor, but your preferred olive could also be used. Smash the olives with the flat side of a chef’s knife — or even the heel of your palm in a pinch — then use your fingers to pluck the olive flesh off the pit. Any stubborn meat clinging to the pit is fair game to be eaten then and there.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt
- 1pound dried cavatappi, fusilli or other short, curly noodle
- ⅓cup olive oil
- 12ounces green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola, smashed and pitted
- 1garlic clove, grated or minced
- 1lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 tablespoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice)
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as desired
- ½to ¾ cup loosely crumbled or cubed feta, depending on preference
- Black pepper
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook at a gentle boil until al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a saucepan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the olives, cooking until they start to blister in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, then add in the garlic, lemon zest and red-pepper flakes, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, then let sit uncovered until the pasta is finished.
Step 3Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain the pasta, then return it to the pot over medium-low heat. Pour in the olive mixture, the lemon juice and ¾ cup pasta water, and stir well for 1 to 2 minutes to combine until the noodles are coated in a smooth, glossy sauce, adding more water if needed. Turn off the heat, stir in the feta and let it soften and melt slightly. Finish with a grind or two of black pepper and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes, if desired. Season to taste with salt, and serve immediately.