This quick Mediterranean orecchiette pasta with simple pantry staples is the perfect dinner for busy nights! White beans add fiber and plant-based protein, making it extra satisfying, while tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and Pearls Kalamata Pitted Greek Olives, fill it with big flavor! 

This post is sponsored by Pearls Olives. All opinions are my own.

Orecchiette pasta in a skillet, topped with arugula. smaller bowls of red pepper flakes and olives to the side

On busy weeknights, especially since we’re back to school now, I can always count on pasta for a quick and delicious dinner everyone will enjoy. 

To me, pasta dinners are also a great way to use what produce and pantry staples I have on hand to make things interesting without too much work. 

Enter today’s fun orecchiette recipe, loaded with fresh tomatoes, garlic, herbs, peppery arugula, white beans—for a little plant-based protein—and Pearls Kalamata Pitted Greek Olives, one of my favorite ways to add instant flavor! 

As much as I love a classic marinara sauce, there are enough layers in this white bean pasta that a lighter sauce with good olive oil and a splash of white wine is just right. 

cooked pasta with sauce in the skillet with a bowl of arugula and a bowl of feta to the side and a jar of kalamata olives

Orecchiette Pasta

Orecchiette--pronounced oh-reck-ee-ET-tay--translates to “little ears” in Italian. Not to be confused with shells, this round pasta that resembles a cup comes from southern Italy, and specifically Puglia, where it is often served with chunks of chopped greens or veggies. You'll often see orecchiette recipes with broccoli rabe, for example

I find orecchiette’s fun shape perfect for this white bean pasta recipe because it will nicely catch the chunks of beans and tomatoes. 

But if you don’t have it, farfalle, penne, or another short pasta with some texture, are all good substitutions for orecchiette in this recipe. The draw is in the layers of flavors, and for me, an olive lover, Pearls Kalamata Pitted Greek Olives are key in this delicious pasta dinner. 

bowl of white bean orechiette pasta with a jar of olives in the background

Pearls Kalamata Olives 

I use Pearls Olives often to add flavor, especially on pizza and pasta dishes. And because they are 100% grown and packed in sunny California, picked at the peak of freshness, you can truly taste the difference. And I love the fact that Pearls takes care of the earth, running a 99% zero waste facility  and recycling more than 2 billion gallons of water! 

For this particular recipe, their pitted Kalamata Pitted Greek Olives are the perfect match to the other Mediterranean flavors I use. These hand-picked, hand-crafted purple gems have a firm texture, and they burst with rich, fruity flavor, adding a little something special to this vegetarian orecchiette recipe. 

ingredients for orecchiette. Bowls of dry pasta, roma tomato, white beans, arugula, olives, red onions, garlic, and spices

How to make this orecchiette recipe

This dish takes just a few simple steps, starting with cooking the pasta and creating the sauce, then tossing in the rest of the ingredients at different stages. Here is how:

  • Once you get your orecchiette in the boiling water for a few minutes, you can get started on creating the sauce by sautéing fresh garlic and onions, seasoned with thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes, in some good extra virgin olive oil. Then, to add the white wine and lemon juice with a bit of the pasta cooking water. 
  • To the sauce, add the white beans (from a can) and chopped tomatoes and cook for a little while until warmed through and softened (about 5 minutes). 
  • Finally, toss in the pasta and finish with the arugula, olives, and bits of creamy feta (you can omit the feta if you want to keep this dinner vegan). 
orecchiette pasta in a bowl and a skillet next to it

More pasta recipes to try:

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4.89 from 67 votes

Orecchiette with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Olives

Suzy Karadsheh
Orecchiette pasta in a skillet
This quick Mediterranean orecchiette pasta with simple pantry staples is the perfect dinner for busy nights! White beans add fiber and plant-based protein, making it extra satisfying, while tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and olives, fill it with big flavor! 
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Italian, Mediterranean
Serves – 4 people


  • ½ lb orecchiette pasta or similar short pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ large red onion chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 15- ounce can cannellini beans or white beans of your choice, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup Pearls Kalamata Pitted Greek Olives plus more to your liking
  • Feta cheese for garnish optional


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dante. Be sure to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water.
  • About 4 minutes after you put the pasta in the boiling water, work on the sauce. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, and season with kosher salt. Add the thyme, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook, tossing occasionally, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the garlic and onions have softened.
  • Add the white wine and cook for a couple of minutes until it reduces a bit, then add the lemon juice and ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the tomatoes and beans and cook for 5 minutes.
  • When the pasta is ready drain and add it to the skillet and toss to combine with the tomatoes and beans. Taste and adjust salt.
  • Stir in the arugula, olives, and feta cheese, if using. Enjoy!


  • If you don't have orecchiette pasta, another short pasta like farfalle or penne will work. 
  • Store leftovers in the fridge in a tight-lid container. If stored properly, leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils and spices


Calories: 395.3kcalCarbohydrates: 68.3gProtein: 15.4gFat: 3.8gSaturated Fat: 0.6gSodium: 524.3mgPotassium: 419.9mgFiber: 9.6gSugar: 4.7gVitamin A: 986.5IUVitamin C: 15.2mgCalcium: 143.5mgIron: 4.4mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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  1. 5 stars
    The first time I made this we did not have arugula, so I used spinach and basil. It was outstanding. I made it a second time with arugula and both versions are excellent. Highly recommend! Thanks for the recipe 😋

  2. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! The only changes I made were adding extra olives and a mixture of baby arugula and baby spinach. I tooped it with feta which was optional. Will definitely be making it again.

    1. Hi, KJ! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. Moscato would be too sweet for this recipe. I would use chardonnay or a pinot grigio. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious!! Not only is this delish beautiful to look at, it is just so darn tasty!! I made it as written, but did (accidentally) add bacon in the very first sauté time before the onions. I used Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanco beans. I used some of the bean liquor with the water and wine step. This was just a perfect recipe. I wish I could show you the picture. Just beautiful!

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Made this for the first time and it came out perfect. Even my wife enjoyed it and she is really not a pasta fan. Dishes like this make one feel proud to have Italian heritage.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this tonight, only had cherry tomatoes otherwise followed the recipe exactly. So delicious and filling. Definitely will make again.

  6. 5 stars
    This was delicious !!! Had all the ingredients minus the fresh thyme so I used dry, but still amazing. will 100% re make this. I followed someone else's comment and used cherry tomatoes and it came out perfect. I added some parmigiano reggiano to my bowl and it was amazing.

  7. 4 stars
    Wonderful flavors! The only change I would make to this recipe would be to use small cherry tomatoes instead of the chopped Roma tomatoes, as the Romas added to much watery liquid and I wanted a slightly thicker consistency. I used whole wheat pasta this time, too, and the slightly nuttier flavor of the whole wheat pasta was terrific. This is an excellent dish and no matter the substitutions I'll definitely make this again.

  8. 5 stars
    This was very good. I replaced the thyme (I don't like it) with one teaspoon of dried basil. I used diced canned tomatoes instead of fresh. Instead of feta, I sliced some chicken sausages into "coins," browned them and added them at the end. I sprinkled my portion with grated parmesan. Will be making it again.

  9. 5 stars
    Suzy, I made this the other night, and there were no leftovers. It's delicious! Thank you for sharing.
    It's definitely a dish I will be making more often.

  10. 5 stars
    Another winner recipe! Really enjoyed this dish. It felt light and refreshing yet bold in flavors. Will definetly be making again. Thank you for your all your fabulous dishes! ❤️

  11. 5 stars
    This was fantastic and super easy. We like to eat vegetarian a couple times a week and this was so filling and satisfying no one missed the meat. We'll definitely be making again.