Grandma Assunta’s Cured Olives & Pasta

I love this one! It’s a real “siggy” type of dish. My grandmother was not Sicilian but my grandfather was. After discussing this dish with my mother, we came to the conclusion Grandma Sue would make Sicilian-style dishes like this one for Grampa Vincent. Although this salty/savory dish has no golden raisins in it, I bet that would be a fantastic addition as Sicilians love mixing savory and sweet. And they’re really good at it! 

I made a couple changes. I love putting my own touch on things which is the beauty of artful cooking. We are going to make the angel hair homemade with 100% whole wheat flour from scratch.

Also, instead of using pureed tomatoes, I’m using diced. The goal here is to get just the right balance of oil, tomato, and pops of saltiness from the cured olives. Too many olives will ruin the dish just making it way too salty. The sauce is supposed to be on the oily side. 

About whole wheat pasta . . . 

As far as I’m concerned, whole wheat pasta is delicious! The color, the more intense flavor, and the sturdy chew it gives while eating it! It may slowly be taking over as my favorite pasta. I can’t say the same for bread and pizza dough though. I love my Caputo 00 for those items. 

Whether you are making bread or pasta, doing it with 100% whole wheat flour can be a challenge. It feels like sand in your hands instead of that baby powder feel of beautiful Caputo 00. But, if there’s a will there’s a way! I have found adding a little more fat (olive oil) and letting the dough rest overnight helps a lot. This way all that moisture from the eggs and olive oil has a chance to penetrate that stubborn whole wheat grain.  

Also, when I’m not using imported flour from Italy, I go straight to King Arther. King Arther is a great company with high-quality products. In this case, we are using King Arther “white” 100% whole wheat flour. Don’t let the “white” fool you. It still feels like sand lol!

So let’s get started. . . 

For the pasta. 

Do yourself a favor. Break from tradition and use a stand mixer with a dough hook to get started on this pasta. You will eventually have to knead it with your hands at the end. But the stand mixer muscles that stubborn whole wheat pretty well so you don’t have to. 

In the mixing bowl, you can put all of your pasta ingredients in at once. Flour, eggs (plus one yolk), salt, and extra virgin olive oil. 

Start the mixer off on slow and slowly increase speed. 

The dough will start forming crumbs and then larger pieces. Like starting all pasta it may seem a little too dry. Just keep mixing it until it starts to come together.

If there are some smaller crumbs or dry flour that refuse to mix in, we can cheat a little and add a tiny bit of warm water one teaspoon at a time to get things going. You will see that just a tiny bit of water will make a huge difference. We do not want to add any more water than just a tiny bit because your pasta will become inferior and not hold up when cooking it. 

Once your stand mixer did all it can do, remove all the contents of the bowl onto a clean surface. Bring all of the contents together with your hands and get it all into one dough ball. It’s not going to look pretty at this point. 

Now just keep kneading and kneading and kneading. Using the “heel” of your hand, start from the back of the dough ball and push down and forward over and over folding the dough onto itself for about a good 10 to fifteen minutes. Just keep kneading until you start to get a nice silky feeling dough. Form it into a ball, wrap tightly with saran wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight or for eight hours. 

After resting, take the pasta out of the fridge and let it sit for about an hour so you’re not working with it ice cold. 

You will see the dough is now nice and soft and will behave pretty much like normal pasta dough. 

Have a little all-purpose flour handy for dusting, only if needed. 

Place the dough on a clean surface and form it into a log or a loaf type of shape. With a knife cut off about an inch and a half thick piece from either end. Now with a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a flat piece. It doesn’t have to be very thin. Just flat enough that it won’t go into shock when you run it through the pasta machine. 

Now we are going to run this piece through the “pasta sheet side” of your machine. Start on the #1 setting and keep running it through, adding a little dusting flour if needed steadily making it thinner until we completed a sheet on the #5 setting. Don’t worry about how long the sheet is.  

Now dust each side of the sheet with a little bit of AP flour and run it through the spaghetti side of the machine. When your angel hair gets to the desired length, cut with a scissor and place the pasta in a very loose pile on the counter or large cutting board. Dust the pile with just a tiny bit of flour and fluff it up with your fingers so air flows between the strands. Repeat until you have a cutting board filled with beautiful angel hair as pictured above. You have to handle the pasta ever so gently the entire time. This is no place for a heavy hand. Taking the time to hang the pasta is not necessary but hey, if you’re into it, go for it. I never do. 

For the sauce

At this point, we are going to put a large pot of boiling water on the stove. The sauce is so quick that it will be done before the water comes to a boil. You have to give that gentle angel hair plenty of room to swim around! Don’t stuff it all in a small pot! Also, I would not salt the water in this case. If you do add very little. This is a salty kind of dish to begin with. 

While you are waiting for the water to boil, get a large saute pan with lots of surface area and add your oil, garlic, pitted cured black olives, red pepper flakes, and coarsely chopped basil. Put the heat on medium. When the garlic starts to sweat and hardly brown add a small can of diced tomatoes. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so and shut off the heat. 

When your water comes to a boil add your angel hair pasta. Pay attention because this cooks fast. When the foam starts to form at the top of the pasta water, spoon a couple flat ladles of the foamy water into the saute pan. 

As soon as your angel hair rises to the top of the water, that’s it, it’s done. Put the heat on high under the saute pan. 

Strain the pasta until it’s tacky and dry and add it to your large saute pan. Gently toss the pasta in the saute pan so it picks up all of the sauce and oil while cooking it just a bit more. You should only be doing this for a minute or two. 

Plate on your favorite platter and serve.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for visiting!



Ingredient Breakdown

Serves 4-6

For the pasta

14oz of 100% “White” whole wheat flour

4 medium-size eggs plus 1 additional egg yolk

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

For the sauce

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

About 10 oz of pitted Italian / Greek cured black olives

2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

4 cloves of garlic smashed, minced, or however you like

One 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

2 flat ladles of foamy pasta water

1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped basil

Published by mruglio

I'm a third-generation Italian American cook that is passionate about Italian food and all that surrounds it.

2 thoughts on “Grandma Assunta’s Cured Olives & Pasta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: