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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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Orecchiette with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Olives
- 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.
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.
Yay! Thanks, Judy!
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.
Thanks for sharing your adaptations, Janice!
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.
Wonderful! Thanks, Linda!