whole wheat fusilli with roasted zucchini and olive patè

Last night we had a serata girls and we ordered two giant bruschettas. We were talking about how classically good the combination of bread and tomatoes is, and one of them said, “Well have you had whole wheat foccacia and tomatoes yet? It’s so good.” I was perplexed. This was the first time she had eaten a whole wheat item? “Oh my god,” Barbara said, “I love that. And whole wheat pizza.” “Whole wheat pizza, yeah!” said another, “I need to try it.” 

I looked around as if in a parallel universe. Whole wheat, you guys. It’s big for them. I couldn’t tell in the moment, or even now, if this is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, they have their grandfathered-in food traditions that  have been passed down from generation to generation, people generally live long, healthy lives and most of what they eat is fresh and local. BUT. How is it possible that the notion of whole grains as an obviously better alternative to processed ones hasn’t been preached here yet? In 2014? 

Now I know why I got those crazy looks when I was telling the girls about juice fasting!! I think I’ll have to wait at least five years before that gets here. 

In honor of whole wheat goodness, let me present you with this pasta dish. It’s super easy and full of flavor. Olive patè is where it’s at; you can put it on anything, really, and being so concentrated, all it takes is a little spoonful. If you’re not a fan of olives, try sun dried tomato paste, you can get it at Trader Joe’s and it’s equally as delicious. 
Whole Wheat Fusilli with Roasted Zucchini and Olive Patè 
(serves 2)
8 ounces whole wheat fusilli (or short pasta of your choice)
1 large zucchini or (2 medium-small)
1 1/2 or 2 tablespoons olive patè (or tapenade or sun-dried tomato paste)
salt + pepper
crushed red pepper to taste
olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice zucchini in rounds and layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil (about a teaspoon) and sprinkle with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Bake until tender and the edges are crispy, about 15 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup cooking liquid and strain. Toss with the zucchini and olive pate, gradually adding cooking liquid until desired creaminess is reached.
Manu could eat a whole jar of olives in one setting (and frequently does) so this was totally up his alley. Are you an olive lover or hater - I've found that you're either one of the other!


  1. That's hilarious! My goodness sometimes I wish America was a little more naive about dieting trends and more emphasis was placed on quality foods like in Italy! But besides that, this pasta looks delicious! I love zucchini and I ADORE olives, so this is A+ in my book :)

  2. yum! we eat a LOT of whole wheat pasta in our house :) this looks tasty! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

  3. I love the idea of roasting the zucchini rather than pan fry. So much more flavor! I love how whole wheat boggled their minds. It's such a staple with us!

  4. I have been travelling around Italy since 1985, Pane integrale is a common type of bread. There are many ' wholewheat' versions of foccaccia in Liguria and also in Umbria. Perhaps your friends come from a white bread background.

  5. oh my word. this looks absolutely scrumptious. i love seeing the brand 'coop' again :)

  6. I'm not allowed to buy pitted olives because I will just eat the whole can in one sitting. but olive paté sounds DELICIOUS - how did I not know this existed? - and controllable! I will have to try to find some.


thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, i love reading them so much!

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