Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

Thursday 10 September 2020

This pasta recipe I am sharing with you today for Lemon & Green Olive Pasta is a delicious riff on a traditional Italian Pasta Dish called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a simple Italian dish of garlic, olive oil, parsley, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese tossed with cooked pasta. 

This dish differs in that the pan sauce includes buttery Castelvetrano Olives and crispy lemon bread crumbs. A garnish of more bread crumbs and cheese finishes it off.  It is also filled with lots of chopped fresh parsley, garlic and torn basil. 

In short it is yummo!!

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

Many of you may not be familiar with Castelvetrano Olives. They are like the caviar of green olives in my opinion, with a lush buttery flavour, being not overly strong or salty.

Whilst most olives can be a bit soft and mushy, these beautiful olives are firm and hold their shape really well. They are crisp and almost fruit-like.

There is a beautiful hint of creaminess to them, almost buttery.  Like I said, the caviar of green olives. If you think you dislike olives, you need to try these.  They will surely change your mind.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide when I was growing up.  Every year they would have a mother and daughter banquet. I did not always get to go, depending on how busy my mother was and if she could get child care for my siblings.

One year I did get to go however, and the occasion stands out in cleear my mind. We were served a beautiful turkey dinner along with a lovely dessert. This was the first time I had ever tasted frozen peas and I have never forgotten them.

My mother never bought anything but canned peas and I hated those. Frozen peas were so delicious in comparison. They spoilt me for ever wanting anything else.  There was also cranberry sauce which I had not tasted before. 

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

The banquette tables were adorned with relish trays holding crisp celery sticks and pickles and  . . .  olives.  Green, pimento stuffed olives.  I had never tasted an olive in my life.

I remember my mother telling me that if you don't like something at first, the more you made yourself try it, you could actually train yourself to like it.  She got me to try my first olive.

It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either.  I had several and I am pretty sure that by the end of that banquet I was quite enjoying them.  I have been very much in love with olives ever since.

And I totally adore Castelvetrano olives.  I buy mine from Ocado, the online grocery shop.  They come in little jars. They are not pitted, which  probably  adds to their crisp deliciousness. 

Pale bright green in colour, this Sicilian olive is at its best in September and October, but you can pretty much buy them all year round. 

I guarantee that even if you are an olive hater, if you try these, you just might be converted into an olive lover.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

For this recipe you begin by making a crisp and buttery bread crumb mixture which is flavoured lightly with lemon zest and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

The Italians are quite fond of garnishing their pastas with crisp buttery bread crumbs.  In the South of Italy breadcrumbs are considered to be the "Poor Man's Cheese."  

Those who could not afford the luxury of a hard pecorino or parmesan cheeses, or the luxury of wasting a crust of bread, often turned their bread into toasted bread crumbs to sprinkle over their pasta dishes.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

The lemon zest adds a beautful flavour to these. Using Panko bread crumbs makes them even lovelier and crisper, and so light. Some of the crumbs are used in the sauce and of course more are sprinkled over top of the finished pasta dish.

There is cheese as well.  How very utterly luxurious.  Do use a good quality Parmesan cheese and try to grate your own if you can.

When I was a child and my mother would make Italian Spaghetti, it was always accompanied with a green plastic container of grated cheese.   We called it smelly sock and not all of us liked it. I loved it. No surprise there!! 

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

Of course there is no real comparison between that and a good Parmesan cheese that you have grated yourself.  They are world's apart!

There is also garlic in the sauce, and a wonderful bunch of beautiful fresh herbs.  Flat leaf parsley and basil.  Chop the flat leaf parsely finely and then simply tear the basil leaves.

Basil is such a soft herb it doesn't really like being chopped.  It also doesn't like cold.  I never buy basil in packages of leaves. I always buy the plant if I can get it.  It always sits happily on my window sil.  I keep it well watered and it is very happy there.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

There is also lemon in the sauce.  Both the zest and the juice.  I always buy unwaxed lemons now. They are a lot easier to find these days. No more scrubbing off the wax.

You still need to scrub them however. It is the best way of getting rid of any pesticides and bug dirt. I don't want to be eating either of those things and you shouldn't either!

The lemon adds such a beautiful fresh flavour to this dish.  I love, Love, LOVE lemon in anything and I am betting I am not alone in this. You get a double blast here, both in the bread crumbs and in the sauce.

Lemon and garlic are beautiful partners.  Throw in some basil, parsley and cheese and you have a marriage made in heaven! 

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

This sauce is a simple one but makes a wonderful change from the heavier sauces we usually enjoy with our pastas.  This sauce  is light and bright and really fresh!!

I could seriously eat this several times a week. And I love to enjoy the leftovers for breakfast. Cheeky I know, but that's me!  A glutton through and through.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

I love the crunch of the bread crumbs scattered over top of the finished dish and yes, the additonal cheese.  You can tear up a few more herbs if you wish to scatter over top as well.

I used Bugatini today, but spaghetti and linguine also work well.  Long stranded pastas. Pasta's you can roll up with your fork, trapping all of that goodness in.

Today as I post these photographs I so wish that I had done more of the pasta in the bowl rather than the pan.  To be honest I was starving and could no wait any longer to dig in. 

I am so impatient when it comes to eating things that I love. Things like pasta and cheese and, olives and lemon and yes, even garlic.  And don't get me started on buttery bread crumbs.  I can completely lose myself in the deliciousness of it all.

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

Lemon & Green Olive Pasta
Yield: 2
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 5 Mincook time: 15 Mintotal time: 20 Min
It always amazes me when a few simple ingredients come together in an unbelievably delicious way. If you love the flavours of lemon and good green olives you are going to adore this simple pasta dish. Incredibly tasty and very special.


For the Toasted Lemon Breadcrumbs:
  • 1/2 TBS butter
  • 1/2 cup (45g) panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • fine seasalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the pasta:
  • 1/2 pound (about 250g) bucatini, spaghetti or linquine pasta
  • 2 TBS of a good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced (about 1 tsp)
  • pinch of crushed red chillies (red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup (90g) good green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (80 to 120 ml) pasta cooking water
  • 1/4 cup (45g) finely grated Parmesan Cheese, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • a small handful of torn basil leaves
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. First make the bread crumbs.  Melt the butter in a skillet and add the crumbs.  Cook and toast over moderate heat for one to two minutes until golden brown, moving them around constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and season according to taste.  Dump into a bowl and set aside until later on. Wipe out the skillet.
  2. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.  
  3. Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet for the sauce and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic and red chillies.  Cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant and then add the olives. Saute, stirring frequently, for a further couple of minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and some black pepper and set aside.
  4. Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions.  Remove some of the pasta water a minute or so before it is done to use in the sauce.  Drain the pasta well and then dump it into the skillet with the olive mixture.  Add 1/4 cup (60ml) of the pasta water along with the cheese.  Toss to combine all of the oil, pasta water and parmesan to create a sauce, adding more water if need be.  Add about a quarter of the toasted bread crumbs, the lemon zest,  the lemon juice, the parsley and the basil. Toss again to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Top with more bread crumbs and additional parmesan cheese if desired and serve immediately.


I used Castelvetrano olives for this pasta. They are mild, buttery and delicious.
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Lemon & Green Olive Pasta

If you are looking to try out a new pasta dish this week look no further. This one is a winning combination all round. Although the quantities are for only two people, you can very easily multiply them to feed more!

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  1. Hi Marie, I'm definitely going to make this. It would be perfect for a Friday dinner when we don't eat meat. I loved your Friday Favourites, especially the Chinese Lanterns. They look lovely in a fall bouquet. I treated myself to three stems of sunflowers. They look so pretty in my blue vase supplememted with goldenrod from the garden. Your little cherub is weeping for our world and the state it's in. We all must work together to fix it. My sciatica is still giving me pain. My doctor said a flare up could last 6 to 8 weeks - yikes! Must go make a grocery list. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. I am so sorry you are still in such pain Elaine. ((((HUGS)))) I hope that you feel better a lot more sooner than later! I hope also that you enjoy this pasta dish! Love and hugs and get better soon prayers. xoxo

  2. This looks really delicious! Light, summery (but also equally yummy in the winter!) and easy to put together. Definitely on grocery list for next week!!! THANKS!!!!

    1. You are very welcome! I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did! xoxo

  3. If I was on my printer, this would be printed out by now. I've loved olives since I was a kid. True story -- In every Christmas stocking or Easter basket I would find a jar of them (and creamed herring, too, and maybe sardines!) And lemon is my heart-and-soul food. I couldn't be more excited to do this one!

    1. I would have loved to get a jar of olives in my stocking. Still would! I hope that you make and enjoy this Jeanie! xoxo

  4. I made this last week. It hits all my buttons, lemon, green olives, pasta, cheese, basil...
    I must admit though I prefer the more vinegary green olives. I bought the castrelvano not knowing they were so mild. No worries, I used them up in this dish and also added some of my favorites. Try them on a pizza! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Susan, I am sorry for the late response. I have been moving house. I am with you on preferring more vinegary olives to these, but they were still lovely all the same. Have you ever tried dry cured green and black olives? Scrumptious! xoxo

  5. Hi Marie,
    I've just made this one but without the chilli and I had to use a mix of Spanish green olives and Halkidiki olives as that is all I could find. The recipe was easy to follow and I enjoyed trying something new. Without the chilli (which I hate) I would add more lemon juice and salt next time and either less pasta or more olives! But lovely flavours when they all come together. I have saved several of your recipes and am looking forward to trying more lemony goodness from a fellow lemon-lover!

    1. Thanks so much for your suggestions as to what to use without the chilli! I am pleased that you enjoy my recipes. I think they are all pretty good myself, but then again that's why I share them. It makes my day when someone makes and enjoys so thank YOU! xo

  6. This was dinner last night and we loved it. I used bucatini and added a touch more chilli as we like the heat. The green olives were great in this and the dish was very satisfying and so tasty. It's also very easy to make, so an ideal one for a busy weeknight. Just add a salad and dinner is done.


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