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“Olive leaves” Pasta with olives An original recipe by Dario Ersetti, inspired by traditional Apulian cooking, using this new kind of pasta, now very popular and easy to find by Dario Ersetti
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“Olive leaves” Pasta with olives. Photo by Dario Ersetti

There is a relatively new kind of pasta called “Foglie di olivo” (Olive leaves). It is now being produced industrially all over Italy, but the original idea came from an Apulian pasta. While Bari’s famous “cavatelli” is round and is made with one finger, to the West we find longer “cavatelli” made by using two fingers and if we go further inland three fingers are used to make an even longer shape.

Foglie di olivo” belongs to the second type and it also has some spinach added to obtain the green colour suggesting leaves. To be exact, it looks more like sage than olive leaves.

As there is not yet a traditional way of using this pasta, we want to suggest one that is very simple and reflects the peasant spirit but at the same time has a certain elegance due to the extreme simplicity of the ingredients.

The pasta, cooked as usual in boiling salted water, is dressed with a handful of olives simply heated in oil for a few minutes. They mustn’t be cooked through as that would make them lose their fresh flavor.

In this case, too, the choice of ingredients will characterize the dish. It would be ideal to use the “celline” variety of olives, preserved at home with lemon peel and bay leaves, with oil from the same olives. The slight bitterness of the olives will balance the sweetness of the pasta and the oil.

In the oil, before adding the olives, small strips of pig’s cheek can be lightly fried until crisp. The dish will then be tastier and perhaps more traditional, since pork fat was widely used in the past in Puglia.

NB: the olives must not be de-stoned because the care the diners take to protect their teeth will enable them to savor the dish properly and appreciate its subtle contrasts of flavor. However, if the diner is a gourmand rather than a gourmet, the olives should certainly be de-stoned.

 

The recipe

 

   4 servings:

 

- 400 g of pasta

- 200 g of black olives

- 50 g of extra virgin olive oil

- 80 g of pig’s cheek (optional)

- salt

 

While the pasta is cooking in the usual way in boiling salted water, gently fry the strips of pig’s cheek in oil. When crunchy, add the olives and heat without cooking.

Drain the pasta, place into a serving dish with the oil and mix to blend the flavor.

To decorate the dish in the form of an olive tree you can use a leek or a spring onion slit in two lengthwise and gently fried in oil.

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