Rustic Linguine with Summer Herbs and Olives

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Fresh herbs star in this savory pasta dish.
Fresh herbs star in this savory pasta dish.
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"Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" features Mediterranean-inspired recipes starring Old World grains such as farro, barley and polenta

The following is an excerpt from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 5: Pasta.

Rustic Linguine with Summer Herbs and Olives
Serves 4

Herb and Olive Mixture:

1 cup Kalamata or other good-quality black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh red Thai chile (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt


Fine sea salt
3/4 pound whole wheat linguine or spaghetti

1. First, prepare the herb and olive mixture. Place the olives, herbs, capers, garlic, chile, and olive oil in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Salt to taste (keeping in mind that olives and capers might be salty enough). Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring a couple of times, for the flavors to come together.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt as you see fit and then the pasta, stirring a few times. Return to a boil with the lid on; uncover and cook at a gentle boil until the pasta is al dente, according to the package directions.

3. To finish, drain the pasta and return it to the pot or to a large serving bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the herb and olive mixture together with a scant 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Toss vigorously to combine for about 1 minute, adding a tad more cooking liquid to loosen the pasta as needed. Serve at once.

To get a head start: The herb and olive mixture, as in step 1, can be prepared 1 day ahead. Chill, covered. Remove it from the fridge when you start to boil the pasta water to take the chill out. I normally don’t buy already pitted olives as the pit helps them retain flavor, but if you’re in a hurry, please do.

To lighten it up: You can reduce the amount of olive oil to 2 tablespoons and increase the pasta liquid a bit. But I am a believer in the transformative power of olive oil. So when I feel a need for restraint, I eat a little less pasta–and more salad–rather than cut back on the delicious and satisfying aroma of olive oil.

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc

More recipes from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals:

• Artichoke-Rosemary Tart with Polenta Crust

• Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart with Walnuts

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