Ingredients (Serves 4)
Coarse sea salt
1 cup Gaeta olives, pitted
3/4 cup Picholine or other mild green olives
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
1 small fresh red chile, thinly sliced, or pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for sprinkling
1 pound pennette or penne
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, put olives, scallions, chile, marjoram and thyme into a mortar. Using the pestle with a rotary movement, grind mixture against wall of mortar until combined. Working with 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, drizzle in oil, grinding and mixing to incorporate as you go, until pesto is combined and smooth. Add cheese and grind to combine.
Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserving ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain pasta and return to pot. Immediately add pesto and toss to combine, adding as much of the pasta cooking liquid to moisten as desired. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of cheese.
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