Spicy Black Olive Ragu with Fresh Orecchiette

Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 30 min
Servings: 4 Skill Level: medium

This vegetarian spin on a ragu features our California Black Ripe Olives which offer a briny, savory flavor in lieu of meat. Orange juice and zest are added for additional brightness for a perfectly comforting dish!


Homemade Orecchiette:

  • 300 grams rimacinata semolina flour, (can sub AP flour)
  • 150 grams warm water, about 90 degrees F
  • 2 grams salt
  • 1 teaspoon spinach powder, (optional)

Olive Ragu:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can Pearls or Early California Black Ripe Olives (liquid reserved)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or Calabrian chili paste (based on spice preference)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, as needed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Optional – Substitute your favorite dried pasta

Cooking Instructions

Homemade Orecchiette:

  1. If using spinach powder, sift together with flour. Otherwise, proceed with flour: using the well method, slowly start with the water in the middle of well of flour, and while stirring, draw the flour into the center.
  2. Gradually draw more of the flour into the center until a shaggy dough begins to form.
  3. Using a bench scraper, fold the dough ball over itself to draw the remainder of the water and flour together.
  4. Using your hands, begin to knead the dough, folding it over itself, and rotating the mass, turning it repeatedly.
  5. Continue to knead until a smooth and supple dough forms.
  6. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
  7. Once rested roll the dough into a snake and cut/form into cavatelli, pici, or orecchiette.

Olive Ragu:

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat and add the finely minced garlic, leek, and shallot to the pan. Begin cooking this slowly, stirring to melt together the alliums.
  2. While the onion mixture is cooking down, begin by draining the Pearls or Early California Black Ripe Olives (reserving the liquid), and roughly chopping them, to the consistency of cooked ground beef.
  3. After about 10-15 minutes and the alliums have turned translucent, add the oregano, chili flakes, and tomato paste.
  4. Turn the heat to medium high and continue stirring with a rubber spatula for 2-3 minutes until the tomato caramelizes.
  5. Deglaze with the red wine and some of the reserved olive brine.
  6. Continue to reduce to au sec.
  7. Stir in the olives and orange juice. return to medium heat for 3-5 minutes. until the flavors have married.
  8. Set aside or cool until ready to use.
  9. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt, but not as salty as the sea.
  10. Cook your dried pasta according to the package directions, or if using fresh pasta – until al dente.
  11. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water. Starting with about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, emulsify the pasta and ragu together as one. Season with salt and black pepper.
  12. Off the heat, add a small amount of parmigiano and quickly stir until melted. Use additional pasta water to adjust consistency.
  13. Finish with chives, parsley, and orange zest.

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