I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting pestos, so when Cooks Illustrated came out with a trio of creative combos intended to gussy up store-bought cheese ravioli, I knew I had to try this one, because it sounded so…well, wrong. Green olives and oranges? Believe it or not, yes. It works. The parsley and almonds are the main players in the dish, but the orange and olive add a certain je ne sais quois. Most important of all, though, was the opportunity to use up an elderly half-bottle of green olives that kept getting knocked over in the back of the fridge.
As CI originally intended this for prepackaged ravioli, a recommendation I ignored for obvious reasons, I don’t know the proper ratios of pasta to sauce, so the below amount of pasta is a guesstimate. Feel free to experiment with more or less pasta to taste.
The amounts below make 4 small bowls. (This stuff is FILLING.)
• 1/2 cup pitted green olives: 75 cents
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled: 6 cents
• 1 1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves: 20 cents
• 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I just used a whole 4-oz. triangle): $2.79
• 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted: 50 cents
• 1/2 tsp grated orange zest, plus 2 T orange juice (about half an orange): 37 cents
• 1/2 cup flavorful olive oil: 44 cents
• 12 oz. pasta of your choice: 72 cents
• Salt & pepper to taste: 2 cents
TOTAL: $5.85/4 = $1.47/serving
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Chop the olives, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, almonds, and orange zest and juice in a food processor, scraping down the sides when necessary. With the machine on, slowly pour the olive oil into the feed tube. Again, scrape down sides if necessary to ensure everything is combined.
When the pasta water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Before draining, remove about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.
Drain pasta and return to the pot. Add the pesto, stirring well to combine. Add cooking water as needed to keep everything from drying out as you stir. (I had to add almost all of it.) Serve sprinkled with more cheese.