linguine with green olive sauce and zesty breadcrumbs.

linguine with green olive sauce and zesty breadcrumbs.

I’m a person who, when necessary, can really just got into survival mode with food. In a good way, that is: I buy lots of roast-able, satisfying vegetables, avail myself of various spices, and scavenge around the fridge for leftover proteins. I eat lots of scrambled eggs with greens in the morning. I feel hungry, i check the time, I eat at appropriate intervals, it is mostly healthy, end scene.

That’s what I did a couple of months back during our move. In the weeks leading up to the big event, and the weeks after, eating became utilitarian. It’s not to say it wasn’t delicious: I tend to keep an incredibly well-stocked pantry, and by now, I know how to make even roasted broccoli and eggs exciting using things I already have, but nothing was really planned. I don’t remember what I ate, mostly. Time went by. I packed and unpacked. Dinner came and went.

Except this one dinner stuck with me. This pasta.

A standout for many reasons, one of them being that I almost never make pasta for myself. It doesn’t excite me, I don’t have the proper hand with it unless I’m making a concerted effort, in my opinion; I can do other things way better without trying. But I saw this recipe, probably during a weak, tired moment, and it looked like exactly what I wanted. So I put down my stupid tape roller, went to the store, and made myself an actual meal.

linguine with green olive sauce and zesty breadcrumbs.

Friends: this is no ordinary pasta dish; it’s everything you want on a plate. Layers of brine, herbs, sour citrus, crunchy breadcrumbs, all held together with a little olive oil and parmesan. The ingredient list reads like a laundry list of my weaknesses: honestly, I could set it to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music and not even feel bad about it.

Although I made it in the dead of winter, it’s perfect for anytime of year; the magic of herbs and lemons makes that so. Briny as it may be, the fresh greenness of the herbs really make it just taste like sunshine. Use a full-flavored olive oil for this – I like Trader Joe’s brand for this, but Sur la Table makes a nice one also, both inexpensive.

linguine with green olive sauce and zesty breadcrumbs.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe, found in Bon Appetit’s recipe archive. Double the breadcrumbs, a little less pasta to balance that out, more lemons, more parm. Also, I’m not adding the parmesan in as the sauce; I did it that way and it makes it clumpy and a little weird. Adding it to the breadcrumb mixture and tossing with the pasta near the end makes it perfect.

Linguine with Green Olive Sauce and Zesty Breadcrumbs

Serves | 4 |

  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 8 ounces linguine or other long, thin pasta
  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted, halved
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • juice of 2 lemons, strained

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over medium and cook panko, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to paper towels to drain and toss with dill and lemon zest.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, mash anchovies and garlic to a paste on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine with parsley, basil, and half of olives and capers in a large bowl. Chop remaining olives and capers and add to bowl, along with remaining ½ cup oil. Mix well; season sauce with salt and pepper.

Add pasta and a little bit of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to sauce, if you need to; toss until sauce coats pasta. Add lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Twist in your Parmesan; top with panko mixture and more Parmesan to serve.

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  • Reply John/Kitchen Riffs May 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

    It’s easy for parm to clump up when adding it to the sauce. Using a bit of the pasta cooking water helps. Anyway, this is a good looking dish! Ton of flavor. Nice texture. Good stuff. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply Willow | Will Cook For Friends May 11, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Mmm, I can almost taste it reading the recipe! I am a sucker for a good pasta dish (I actually make pasta all the time for myself, because it’s basically my quickest hangry cure), but I do get lazy with it and end up making the same type of thing over and over. I’ve been meaning to mix it up more lately, and this sounds so incredibly perfect — I even have almost everything on hand already! Brine-y breadcrumb-y pasta, here I come! 🙂

  • Reply Dana | Whisks & Words May 12, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Briny pasta? Oh my. Moving is the worst, and decent food is one of those things that helps me feel normal again (I’m desperate for normal these days as we STILL have unpacked boxes because unpacking while super pregnant is super hard). Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Reply Monica May 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I can imagine this being so good; it sounds packed with flavor and texture. Breadcrumbs seem to be some kind of magic topping for pasta and it’s a component like that – which we often don’t have time for – that really makes a dish. I rely on meals I can cook without thinking but once in a while, it really pays of to try something new and hit on a winner like you did with this one.

  • Reply Ashley May 13, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I just heart you! Your writing, your thoughts, just love love love!
    That said, I’ve been in such a long rut of non-inspiration for savory foods. My lunches are abysmal, if they happen (does yogurt and maybe, if I’m really good, hummus + pretzel crisps, spaced 3 hours apart count as lunch?). My dinners are basically throwing the decision making onus onto Eric, who tried to appease me but we end up eating the same few things (I think it’s a time thing…). I WANT this pasta, though Eric won’t (green stuff, olives). Maybe next week’s lunches…..

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook May 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Oh boy. Now I’m singing My Favorite Things which I used to sing as a lullabye before putting my kids to bed. Love this pasta- as I love all that is in it! I now toss parm directly onto the hot pasta first and then the sauce. It makes the sauce stick better! I’m like you. I can always make something out of nothing!

  • Reply Emma May 18, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Dayum this looks good! Pasta is my #1 weakness.

  • Reply elizabeth May 18, 2016 at 8:44 am

    I would eat all of this save for the olives, because I’m a freak and I don’t like whole olives (and even then I would at least consider using them). I love a good breadcrumb pairing with pasta but never thought to use panko, so I’m going to have to try this very soon!

  • Reply Sandra L, January 11, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    This sounds divine. I could live on pasta, donuts and coffee. Toss in a good steak occasionally and I am one happy lady. I will have to make this as it has everything I love in it except the capers but the always seem to add a nice taste to a dish.

    • Reply shannon March 22, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Sandra, i could also live on pasta, donuts and coffee – maybe i wouldn’t feel amazing, but i love all three of those things. 🙂 leaving out the capers won’t hurt the recipe one bit, especially if you’re not a fan. if you enjoy the flavor, maybe throw in half the amount and dice them up ahead of time – that way the flavor distributes, but you’re not eating whole capers in your bites. 🙂

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