Updated: Mar 5
My signature dish inspired by a love of olives, garlic, parsley and a little heat.
Bonus: toddler-friendly (before chili peppers are added) 😊
2 cups of pasta
15-20 Castelvetrano olives, smashed, pitted and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp water for cooking olives, garlic, parsley (optional: 2 tbsp oil)
2 cups arugula
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp red chili flakes or Calabrian chili peppers
Note: Any olives will do but I highly recommend fresh Castelvetrano olives with pits intact. Look for them in the olive bar at the grocery store. Pre-pitted ones are fine, but the whole ones provide an extra meaty, buttery texture and superior flavor.
Boil water and cook pasta according to package instructions
Wash parsley and arugula
Mince garlic and chop parsley (include the stems of the parsley, there's nutrition in there!)
Smash olives with the side of a knife, 'cracking' them open. Remove and discard pits and lightly chop olives
When pasta is 3 minutes from al dente, heat a pan and add water, garlic and olives. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to prevent garlic from burning
Add cooked pasta and a little pasta water (1-2 tbsp) and mix with the garlic, olives and parsley
Turn off heat, then add arugula (tearing into smaller portions) and fold into the pasta. The heat from the dish will wilt the arugula perfectly. Before adding arugula, this is where I'll dish out little Elle's portion of dinner since she's not into eating 'leaves' right now (I hide her greens in her smoothies or tomato sauce)
Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Top with chili peppers if you like it hot, and enjoy!
Note: If using Calabrian peppers, do not handle them with bare hands - they're spicy!
Crutches Are For Winners
During the transition to a plant-based diet, it was critical for me to have a “go-to” meal to stay on track and resist any temptation to fall back on old cravings with animal products.
This go-to dish needed elements that I regularly enjoyed during my former days – and pasta has always been my favorite. I've always loved garlic, fresh herbs and especially olives, which I can eat any time of the day. So I put it all together and created Smashed Olive Pasta.
I was immediately addicted! (A good addiction this time.) During those moments when I wasn’t sure I could stay committed to a plant-based diet and instead run for the nearest cheesiest pizza, this dish was the crutch that got me through it all.
And, it quickly became a staple since, well... it's freaking delicious!
Did you know that arugula - aka rocket - is the most nutrient-packed green?
Here's Dr. Michael Greger's two minute video highlighting this powerful lettuce.
I’m not normally excited by quinoa but it's surprising how much I enjoy it when I do actually eat it. By substituting pasta for quinoa, this recipe also makes a fantastic quinoa salad. It’s the combination of olives + garlic + parsley that makes it such a winner.
I prefer pasta over other options since it's the most comforting. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be Italian. It's also great to experiment and use whole grains for the healthiest option.