Use lasagna noodles to make this pasta with olive sauce

Staff Writer
Glen Rose Reporter
This pasta with olives is from "Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners: 75 Dishes With Inspired Sauces" by Nikki Marie.

By Addie Broyles

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Homemade mac and cheese has been a go-to during this extended summer at home, but now that my kids are increasingly interested in olives, capers, salami, goat cheese and other tangier foods, I think they are ready for some new pasta dishes.

I love this recipe from "Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners: 75 Dishes With Inspired Sauces" (Page Street Publishing, $21.99), a new book by Nikki Marie that lives up to its title. I always have lasagna noodles in the pantry, but I so rarely make lasagna. Flat pieces of pasta are a perfect vehicle for this olive-heavy sauce. If you don't want to use red wine, a splash of red wine vinegar and an extra tablespoon or two of pasta water will help the sauce come together.

Pasta Giada Alla Olive (Pasta With Olives)

This is one of my daughter Giada's favorite dishes and was therefore named for her. This recipe is reminiscent of a puttanesca sauce in that it uses tomatoes, capers and olives - though I prefer a mix of varying types of olives and only roughly chop them. The irregular shape of the broken lasagna adds to the interest and the comfort of this dish. Get the kids involved with this recipe - they'll love breaking the noodles! A splash of red wine adds depth to the sauce and leaves its fragrance behind after it has cooked out. The only thing you'll have to keep in mind is that the olive ratio should be slightly less than the liquids you're using. The sauce should be fluid and loose and should not resemble a tapenade.

- Nikki Marie

1 pound lasagna noodles

Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (substitute with red pepper flakes)

1 small onion, diced

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large clove garlic, finely grated

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (including the juice), ends trimmed

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

1 cup mixed olives, pitted and roughly chopped (Italian Castelvetrano, Greek Kalamata and black oil-cured)

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard cheese, to garnish

Break the lasagna noodles into irregular bite-size pieces over a large bowl and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, generously salt and then add the broken lasagna noodles. Continuously stir the pasta for the first 15 to 20 seconds, as the flat shape of the broken noodles will try hard to suction together. Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, tender yet firm to the bite, according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Drain well.

In the meantime, add the olive oil to a large 12-inch skillet with deep sides over low-medium heat. When it is hot and shimmery, add the Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes) and onion. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and saute, stirring often, until the onion is tender and translucent and has begun to caramelize, about 10 minutes, careful not to let the oil smoke.

Push the onions to the sides of the pan to expose the hot center of the pan. Add the tomato paste to the center, spreading it out a bit with the back of a cooking spoon, and let it sit until it begins to caramelize, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the onions and the tomato paste together to incorporate. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the wine. Return to low-medium heat and scrape the bottom of the skillet to deglaze any flavorful brown bits that may have accumulated. Add the tomatoes along with the juices and use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to roughly break and crush the tomatoes, stirring well to mix. Add the capers and olives, stirring again. Continue to simmer, stirring often, 10 minutes. If the pasta is not finished cooking, it's fine to turn off the heat under the olive mixture at this point.

Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water; toss until the flavors are well incorporated, 1 minute. If necessary, add a splash more of the reserved pasta water to loosen the pasta. The sauce should be silky and not sticky or pasty. Serve with grated cheese and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Serves 4 to 6.

- From "Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners: 75 Dishes With Inspired Sauces" by Nikki Marie (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)

Addie Broyles writes about food for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter at @broylesa