Spaghetti with Green Olives and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

serves: makes enough for 1 pound of pasta

1 pound roasted red peppers
1½ cups green olives, pitted
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
½ cup garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon dried peperoncino
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, freshly chopped
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1 pound spaghetti


Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Drain the roasted peppers, reserving 1/3 cup of the brine. Slice them crosswise into thin strips, about 1/8-inch wide and 3 inches long.

Puree the olives in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the olive oil, pulsing them to a paste; scrape into a small dish. Plunge the pasta into the boiling water 5 minutes before you start the sauce. Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the big skillet, scatter the garlic slices in the oil and set over medium heat. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan now and then, until the garlic is just sizzling.

Drop the peperoncino into a hot spot; let it toast for a minute, then stir it in with the garlic. Scrape the olive paste onto a hot spot. Spread it out let cook it for a minute to caramelize lightly, then stir in with the garlic around the pan. Drop the roasted pepper strips in the center, spread them out and let them start to sizzle and fry, about a minute. Stir everything together, raise the heat slightly, until the vegetables start to sizzle and caramelize.

Ladle in 3 cups of the boiling pasta water. Stir and cook the skillet sauce rapidly for 3 or 4 minutes (while the pasta is cooking). Reduce the liquid by a third or so, then taste the sauce and add salt as needed. Keep at a low simmer until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is done almost al dente, scoop it up and into the skillet to finish cooking, adjusting with more pasta water or reducing the liquid as necessary. Add the parsley during the initial tossing; oil off the heat, toss in the cheese and a tablespoon of olive just before serving.