Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives & Capers

After a long day of chasing Levi around the house as he’s opening drawers, trying to unroll the toilet paper rolls, and pulling the cats’ hair, not only do I appreciate my own Mom and what she did – twice – I’m also tired and dinner is the last thing on my mind. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to participate in my first Recipe Swap on the online cooking forum that I frequent. We were asked to submit an easy weeknight meal, and then everyone was randomly assigned one in return. It was great not having to meal-plan for a night because it was decided for me! Just what a mom needs.

This dish came from a blog called Happy Insides. How fortuitous that it’s written by another couple that cooks together!  Dustin and I enjoyed this meal because it’s similar to our standard weeknight pasta sauce that we came up with together in Japan — we would get home from teaching our English classes and one of us would just begin sautéing garlic and chili flakes in olive oil, as if on autopilot, producing an aroma that would soon make us forget about the worries of the day.

This sauce has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity (and is nice and garlicky; just how we like it!), and the kalamata olives, capers, and feta add just the right amount of saltiness. We added some sweet Italian sausage from El Salchichero, our new handcrafted charcuterie shop in town that opened up on the west side of Santa Cruz. They only sell meat from local and sustainably raised animals that have been treated with respect, so every purchase is good for our community and our conscience!

The recipe below is said to make four servings, but we divided all of the sauce between our two bowls of pasta. I’d probably use two cans of tomatoes next time, if I was making this for more people.

Look for more of these Recipe Swap posts in the future. I love having my dinner assigned to me, and it’s a fun way to interact with other food bloggers out there! Thanks, Cassie & Jason!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives & Capers

(From Happy Insides – a few small changes marked below)

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1 TBS. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano (we used fresh from our garden)
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper*
1/2 tsp. agave nectar**
salt and pepper to taste
1 sweet Italian sausage, sliced into coins
1/4 cup pitted kalamata, halved
2 TBS. capers
feta cheese
Parmesan Cheese
*Although Dustin and I love spice, we had to omit the cayenne this time so that Levi would enjoy this meal with us! We did, however, leave the red pepper flakes in because I do not want my kid to be a heat wimp 🙂
**We used brown sugar instead. Our agave nectar is raw, and like honey, is not recommended for babies to eat under the age of 1.
  • Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and sauté for about a minute.  Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, salt and pepper.  Stir well, cover, and let simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente, according to package instructions.
  • In another pan, fry the sliced sausage in a little olive oil until cooked through and nice and golden on both sides.  Add to the sauce along with the kalamata olives and the capers.  Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Drain the spaghetti and divide between two bowls. Spoon the sauce on top of the spaghetti and crumble some feta on top, as well as some freshly grated Parmesan.

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