fried almond and olive pasta with fresh cilantro and parsley

fried almond and olive pasta with fresh cilantro and parsley 

i never worry about what to “do” with leftover herbs, especially cilantro. the flavour you get when you bite into a fresh leaf on its own can be pretty powerful, but you’d be surprised at how delicate it tastes chopped and dispersed among other ingredients, like in a salsa, yogurt raita, or added to simple pasta at the last minute. i find myself eating at least a cup of cilantro sprinkled over hot noodles in oil almost every time i buy a bunch.

cilantro and parsley stalks, almonds, shallots and olives

i find parsley to be the same way; a single leaf on its own is strong, but big handfuls chopped and added to a salad is welcome. putting both leaves together into a pasta makes for a really quick but interesting meal. i always add olives when i have them around, but i started adding sliced almonds when i went from making this meal to use up herbs, to craving this pasta and wanting to round out the dish to make it an even more special meal. you can certainly make it without nuts, just as you can make it without a chili. adding both is my new favourite way to enjoy this. and not that you’ll need instruction, simply because i want to reminisce:

the perfect, big bite: twirl the noodles in the herb and shallot flavoured oil, scoop up the greens, crisp almonds and spear a juicy piece of olive. i try not to eat the whole bowl in under five minutes, but i know i’m still coming in at under ten.

stalks, olives, shallot and almonds in oil

stalks, olives, shallot and almonds starting to fry

everything goes into the pan together–that has origins in my laziness, but it works well. by the time the stalks and shallot cook to a pleasant softness, the almonds are perfectly toasted, the olives are fried and have contributed their flavour to the happy family too. if you prepare everything including the boiling pasta water before you start, you’ll be done in 7 minutes, just in time to put your cooked pasta into the pan, stir and serve. i’m not going to call this a quick, weeknight dinner, because i think of it more as the perfect anytime meal. think hangovers sitting on the couch on saturday morning, when you don’t want eggs, but also want to eat something worthy of the weekend, to kick it off right.

fried almond and olive pasta with fresh cilantro and parsley2
fried almond and olive pasta with fresh cilantro and parsley

1/4 c sliced almonds
handful sun-dried or oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 dried red chili (optional), stemmed and finely chipped
1/4 c red onion or shallot chopped
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro and parsley stems
1c cilantro & parsley leaves chopped
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

once ingredients are prepped, add your pasta to salted boiling water; i prefer linguine for this dish.

place a large skillet over medium-high heat. immediately add the oil, and then the almonds, olives, stems, red onion, and the chili, if using. stir well, and add the salt and pepper. sautée stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or till the almonds just start to turn golden.

remove skillet from heat and allow to cool for a minute. add the chopped leaves, a drizzle more of oil and stir well. at this point, your pasta should be cooked. add the strained pasta to the skillet and more oil if needed. toss well and serve.

serves 2.