The Salty Topping For Your Pasta That Gives A Bold Blast Of Flavor

spaghetti with olives and capers
spaghetti with olives and capers - Olga Mazyarkina/Getty Images

While pasta is glorious in any form, there are simple ways to take this universal favorite to new heights. Try adding a new layer of complexity to your next pasta dish by topping it with olives. It doesn't even have to be tapenade per se, but simply olives in whatever form tastes the most appealing to you. Olives make an excellent pasta topping because of their briny salt content and variety of flavors ranging from mild to extra tangy. Whatever olive type you choose, there are many different pasta options to pair them with.

Why does this flavor combo work? When starting with a dish of plain pasta, the addition of olives to a typical butter, olive oil, and parmesan cheese topping brings more robust and savory flavor into play. In fact, Kalamata olives can be used as a plant-based substitute for sardines because of their saltiness and meaty, chewy texture, which goes to show the versatility at hand. Whether going heavily acidic with lemon juice and capers or taking a more subdued route with earthy herbs, the sky's the limit for olive pasta.

Read more: 44 Types Of Pasta And When You Should Be Using Them

Different Ways To Enjoy Olive Pasta

pasta with olives on top
pasta with olives on top - Drong/Getty Images

Looking at the myriad of olive options, there is definitely an olive for every pasta dish and vice versa. Starting with California ripe olives, these are the black olives you see in cans rather than jars at the grocery store. Originating from the first olive trees planted in California in 1769, these olives have a rich history and a mild flavor, which make them excellent for slicing and tossing with oil and herbs in a fusilli or macaroni pasta. Choosing Castelvetrano olives provide an especially meaty texture which works well in a dish like Dirty Martini pasta, which tosses spaghetti with blue cheese, garlic, and olives.

If you're looking to add more zest and tanginess, you can try either store-bought or homemade olive tapenade with your pasta, which is composed of olives, capers, and anchovies. Mixing red pepper flakes into your pasta dish will bump up the heat, while olives can temper the spiciness to ensure a flavorful balance that doesn't overwhelm. Adding Mediterranean herbs like oregano or marjoram, along with a handful of breadcrumbs, will also enrich the flavor of your dish. Picking a fun-shaped pasta will allow you to play with textures and can also allow for a more pasta salad-inspired dish versus pairing olives with an angel hair or fettuccine style. Experimenting in the kitchen to determine your favorite combination of pasta and olives will be as delicious as it is enjoyable.

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