But for some reason, I had quite forgotten about it until something jogged my memory and I had a sudden yen to taste it again. I went in search of it to see if my memory served me right, and voilà, there it was.
Given that it’s about the simplest and quickest meal you can prepare, and my husband raved about it when he ate it and remembered, I had to wonder why I ever stopped making it.
They are now of course much more widely available, in greater variety of type and price than they were all those years ago when only specialty stores carried them and charged prices for them into the stratosphere.
Often I can find so-called Spanish salad olives for great prices of less than $3 per pound. Aside from the flavor that I enjoy so much, the advantage of these olives is that they are already pitted and often entirely or partially sliced.
The same goes for some of the canned or jarred brands of Greek or Italian olives. Sometimes, particularly when they go on sale, the pitted, sliced version is actually cheaper than the whole ones. When that happens, I snag them.
The bottom line is that you can use whichever olive appeals to your fancy and accommodates your budget.
As written, the recipe makes about 6 hearty servings. For those wishing to extend the meal to heartier appetites, or add more protein, I suggest adding a can or two of drained and rinsed chick peas to the pasta at the end.
This meal is a cheap one just about any time of the year if you get the ingredients on sale, but it's even more so if you happen to make it during the summer months when zucchini is abundantly available in your own garden, or at farmers’ markets, or your local grocer.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 6-8 servings
Prep Time – About 10 minutes
Total Start to Finish Meal Time – About 20 minutes
Total Recipe Cost – Approximately $7
Total per person meal cost with salad and bread – Approximately $1.50
3 cups water
¾ pound whole grain or high protein thin spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
6 cloves of garlic
½ cup green or black olives (Spanish, salad, California, Greek, etc.)
1 can (28-32-ounce) diced or crushed tomatoes
2-3 medium to large zucchini (to make 2-4 cups)
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
1-2 cans (14-16 ounce size) of chick peas (optional)
Fresh parsley (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Recipe continues after photos.
- Peel and chop or mince the 6 cloves of garlic. Set aside.
- Wash the 2-3 medium to large zucchini, cut off the ends, and slice it lengthwise into 2-3 pieces. Cut across the pieces to make smaller pieces approximately ½-¾-inch in size to make approximately 3-4 cups. A little more or less is fine, too. Set aside.
- Pit and chop the olives, if necessary, to make about ½ cup.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the cut up zucchini and cook for about 5-7 minutes more, until the zucchini begins to soften a bit. Stir often.
- Meanwhile, heat the 3 cups of water to the boiling point in the microwave or in a covered pot on the stove.
- Break the pasta in half or into pieces approximately 3 inches long.
- To the zucchini and garlic in the pot, add the can of crushed or diced tomatoes, the olives, the ½ teaspoon of salt, the ½ teaspoon of pepper, and the 1 teaspoon of oregano, and stir to distribute everything evenly.
- Cook for a minute or two, stirring often.
- Add the boiling water, just 2 cups to start, to the tomato and zucchini mixture in the pot. I recommend holding 1 cup back and adding it only if you need it. The liquid levels will vary depending on exactly how much pasta you use, the brand and type of tomato product, etc. This way you can adjust the liquid levels to your taste.
- Stir the water in to distribute it.
- Cover the pot and turn the burner to high to bring the contents to a boil.
- Once the contents of the pot are boiling, add the pasta to the pot, carefully stirring it to distribute it.
- Re-cover the pot and bring it back to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-medium-low to maintain a steady simmer.
- Cook for 7-9 minutes, until the pasta is done to the desired tenderness. Check the liquid levels periodically and add more of the reserved hot water, if needed.
- While the meal is cooking, wash and chop the optional parsley.
- Also while the pasta is cooking, drain and rinse the chick peas, if you are using them.
- When the pasta is cooked to taste, gently stir in the chick peas to distribute them well, or give the contents of the pot, as is, one last stir to mix everything together.
- Serve the pasta garnished with the optional fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, along with a tossed green salad and a nice loaf of fresh bread, if desired.