Unbelievably Creamy Garlic & Green Olive Pasta

Total Time
Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins

Recipes are an illusion. Gourmet Cooking doubly so. At least that's my story for now. There are no amounts for this recipe, thus the illusion. Quantities are constantly in flux when I prepare this for my family, depending on how much garlic I have, how many olives I feel like chopping, whether I remembered to buy Parmesan cheese yesterday, and what shoes I'm wearing. Not too long after we married, my husband and I really got into watching "The Frugal Gourmet" on PBS. On one of the first shows we watched, Jeff Smith prepared this dish. I practically freaked out trying to write this down, since I had not yet learned my laid-back, pinch o' this, handful o' that way of cooking. He was just tossing things in the pan! How can you COOK like that? (Just fine, thankyouverymuch) At that time I was trying to make myself into a gourmet cook, so I bought the whole green olives and pitted them myself. I bought the wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano that played havoc with the week's grocery money, grating it over the top, with my own freshly Band-Aid-ed fingers, just before serving. I got over it. Nowadays, I just have fun in the kitchen, and we manage to eat pretty well, gourmet cook or no. So, here it is, the way I make it now. More or less.


  1. Put on a big pot of water to boil.
  2. Pick out your pasta, cook it al dente and keep it hot You can use spaghetti, capellini, vermicelli, or linguini, whatever you prefer.
  3. After you've made this once, and you know how long it takes for you to make the sauce, you make everything come up ready at the same time.
  4. Get some green olives.
  5. Any kind you want, really.
  6. I just get a bottle of cheap salad olives.
  7. There are usually a lot of pimento pieces floating around in there.
  8. We like the color, but I'm afraid the ol' Frugal Gourmet would NOT approve.
  9. You can get a bit fancier if you want.
  10. Chop up the olives a bit, not tiny.
  11. Next the garlic.
  12. OK, you HAVE to use fresh for this, no powder, not even the jar of pre-chopped.
  13. Those are okay for some things, and I do use them often.
  14. However, if you use anything other than fresh garlic in this recipe, you will not be impressed, and you will never make this again.
  15. I will weep.
  16. Don't do that to me.
  17. Take your fresh garlic clove, wrap it in that flat rubber disc you use to open jars.
  18. Just roll it up in there, then roll it back and forth on the countertop a few times.
  19. Unwrap it, and the peel should be off or mostly off.
  20. Do this with lots of garlic cloves.
  21. LOTS.
  22. At least a couple per person you're feeding.
  23. Slice the garlic, but not too thinly.
  24. In a hot non-stick sauté pan, put a little olive oil, the fresh sliced garlic and a lot of chopped green olives.
  25. Be generous.
  26. A handful per person is a good start.
  27. Sauté the garlic and olives just a bit, being careful not to let the garlic brown, or it may become bitter.
  28. Add some light cream, and bring to a simmer.
  29. Cook over low heat until the liquid has been reduced by almost half, and it is thick, stirring very often.
  30. Pour this over the hot pasta, sprinkle generously with parmesan, chopped parsley (fresh is best, but I usually only have dried) and black pepper, preferably fresh from the pepper mill.
  31. Toss.
  32. Serve immediately.
  33. Bow.
  34. But be humble.
Most Helpful

I used imported garlic marinated olives and Parmigiano Reggiano. Half and half worked very well. Bobby this is a really good dish. I thought the olives would be too "TOO" but no way baby. Great recipe. Oh and I used 4 cloves of garlic for 1 serving :)

riffraff October 26, 2002

TBG! This was a big hit. For once I actually had the ingredients in the house. I used imported green olives, lite cream and rotini pasta. Must admit I did throw a few black olives in for color (plus, Im addicted)...this was great! We both enjoyed it. Thanks for the great idea!

Tinks June 04, 2002

I love green olives, so I was suprised by the subtle taste. I added one small handful of olives per person, I must not have added enough because I ended up adding a lot of parmesan cheese to get some flavor in it. I added 3 cloves of garlic per person and as you say do not to cut it too thin, the thickness added another GREAT texture. If I make it again I will try more olives and more garlic. BTW, try it cold too, hubby liked it that way.

TammieV February 04, 2003