Save That Leftover Olive Brine To Give Your Pasta Dishes Extra Flavor

bowl of pasta with tomatoes and olives
bowl of pasta with tomatoes and olives - Drong/Getty Images

There's a reason pasta is our favorite go-to meal, and it's not just for the excuse to indulge in the carbs. Pasta is one of the most versatile, filling, and economical meals you can prepare. Sometimes, a great pasta dish can still be simple, but deliver a depth of flavor that will elevate it from good to great. Of the many tricks you can employ when it comes to crafting delectable pasta, adding olive brine is one of the most ingenious.

There's more than one reason not to throw out your leftover olive brine, and while martinis is the biggest one, using it for cooking is a close second. The brine in a jar of olives is a simple mixture of salt, water, and preservatives (and often, pimentos). The rich, fatty acids from the olives infuse with the water and salt as they marinate, creating a burst of umami that is hard to match. Hacking your pasta with olive brine quickly and easily levels up the dish, and there are a couple of ways to use it, starting with adding it to your pasta water.

Instead of liberally adding salt to the pasta water, add salt plus a splash of some olive brine. You can experiment with a couple of tablespoons, or go big if you're not afraid: A large pot of pasta water can handle a good amount of brine. Just remember that if you're using a water-to-pasta ratio, you'll need to be mindful of adding extra liquid.

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

More Ways To Add Olive Brine And Other Brines To Pasta Dishes

jar of olives with pasta
jar of olives with pasta - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

If you're already an olive lover, you no doubt add them to your pasta sauces whenever you can. A good puttanesca can't exist without olives, and they're the salty topping for pasta that you can throw on anything from spaghetti to penne. But by using the brine in your sauce, whether homemade or store-bought, you can bring a concentrated splash of flavor without overwhelming the dish. Start with a tablespoon or two as your sauce is simmering -- you can always add more after tasting.

The flavor of olive brine meshes great with any tomato-based sauce, but it also pairs well with light cream sauces or pestos. You can replace some of the olive oil in your pesto recipe with olive brine for a lighter, saltier sauce. Try slipping some brine into a pepper-based sauce like roasted red pepper. The mild fruitiness in olives compliments peppers beautifully and also works great with sun-dried tomatoes.

So what other brine can you put in pasta? Don't throw away the brine from capers -- it's excellent in pasta with garlic butter sauce. If you have some jarred pepperoncinis on hand, splash some of the brine in your arrabbiata sauce and let it take up residence with the flaked red peppers -- a marriage made in spicy heaven. There are many brines that can be saved and used, but olive is definitely our favorite. Want to try the ultimate olive brine pasta recipe? Whip up this dirty martini pasta tonight, and you'll never consider getting rid of your leftover brine.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.