Prosciutto, Tomato, and Olive Spaghetti

by Jen on January 9, 2013

Once, I went to a potluck party and somebody had brought a simple pasta dish with tomatoes, garlic, and olives. I remember making a beeline for it and piling my plate high with the pasta, even going for seconds and thirds – at least, that’s what I’m willing to admit I had. It was that good!

Naturally, my spidey bloggy instincts kicked in, and the next thing I knew, I was making notes in my head for a recipe.

The reason I gravitated to the dish like was because it sent me back to a trip through Italy. Coincidentally, I remember eating a pasta just like this – with prosciutto and olives – during a family vacation to Sorrento in the Amalfi Coast (this is in the south). The little Sorrentine eatery was tucked in a quiet alley just off Via Fuoro and Corso Italia. The pasta was an eye-opener for me, because I thought, Wow! So, this is how they made pasta in ItalyIt was nothing like the Philippines, where mushy pasta drowned in sugar-laden tomato sauce begged to be rescued from the hell that comes from hotdog toppers and cheese-in-a-shaker (gasp!).

I was 13, it was my first time in Italy, and I was feasting on pasta almost every day. Life was good. Pasta became an obsession, almost.

So, for this dish, I wanted to channel a bit of northern Italy. I took traditional products from the north and assembled a dish that highlighted their specialties: 1) Prosciutto from Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region (or you can use Prosciutto from San Daniele in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region – also in the north); 2) Taggiasca olives from Liguria; 3) Parmesan cheese (Parmiggiano-Reggiano) from Parma (not from a shaker!). Note: The tomatoes I used are fresh, local ones – they give the sauce a light flavour and just a hint of colour.

As well, I actually used burro (butter) from Parma to finish the sauce, although you don’t have to go hunting for an Italian butter; I just happened to have some lying around. But please, please, don’t leave the butter out – it’s so good!

I got a pasta maker for Christmas, so I’m thinking how awesome this sauce is going to be with fresh pasta. Maybe next time, for another post. Meanwhile, enjoy this one for now! We all did!

4.9 from 20 reviews
Prosciutto, Tomato, and Olive Spaghetti
Recipe Type: Main Course, Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 450 grams (1 pound) dried spaghetti
  • 1.8 litres (8 cups) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 130 grams (~ 1 cup) black olives, pitted (I used Taggiasca from Italy)
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or concentrate
  • 42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut up
  • reserved pasta water (optional)
  • 75 grams (2.5 oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 200 grams (less than ½ pound) prosciutto, preferably Parma or San Daniele, at room temerature
  1. In a large pot, bring 1.8 L (8 cups) of cold water to a boil. When it boils, add salt and pasta. Cook according to package instructions, stirring often to loosen up the sticky strands.
  2. Drain the cooked spaghetti, but save about 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  3. Wipe clean the same pot and set over medium heat with olive oil. When oil is hot, lower heat to medium-low and sauté garlic and shallots until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Increase heat to medium again, add olives, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and stir until the alcohol has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in tomato paste and butter until dissolved.
  8. Put the pasta back in the pot and gently mix until each strand is coated in the sauce. Add reserved pasta water if the sauce seems too dry.
  9. Toss with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  10. Serve on warmed plates and garnish with prosciutto slices.


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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom-Friday January 9, 2013 at 4:47 am

The pictures alone look so good to eat!!! Now, where can I score some nice prosciutto in my side of town?


Karen (Back Road Journal) January 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

It seems we are both thinking about Italy. I enjoyed the stunning photos of your pasta…one of my favorites.


The Café Sucré Farine January 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

I love good pasta but who, besides you could make it look so beautiful? These photos are stunning and the recipe sounds so wonderful! You’ve got me going back for seconds and thirds in my mind :)


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic January 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

Eating pasta in Italy is one of my favorite moments too. This sounds great, although since I am not a fan of olives, I would omit it when I make it :)


Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

Yum, I’m craving a bowl right now (at 8:30 am!!). Any dish that will transport me back to Italy for a few magical moments is my kind of dish :).


kari January 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

Yum! Gorgeous pics, love this.


Jean | Lemons and Anchovies January 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

When I first started my blog I think 70% of my posts were of my favorite pasta dishes. I didn’t know how good pasta could be outside of the traditional red or white sauce. Just olives and tomatoes and pancetta? Until I tasted it in Italy, I missed out on so much! The first time was also on the Amalfi coast when a restaurant owner (on a quiet street) served my husband a simple pasta with just tomatoes, herbs and garlic. So good!

Your absolutely beautiful version here would make my taste buds sing. I’d go back for seconds and thirds of this beauty.

Love your header!


Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet January 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

First of all, love the header!! Second, your dish is so beautiful! My kids love spaghetti but it gets boring fast. Now this is far from boring! It’s going to be a hit for sure! :)


Patty January 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I ordered a salad with prosciutto the other night for dinner and it was so good, now when I see your pasta filled with more of that lovely tasty stuff I’m intrigued….plus it’s so pretty;-)


Tessa January 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Perfect dish for a busy weeknight! I really like it because I generally have all the ingredients on hand. Delish!


amy @ fearless homemaker January 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Oh wow, this looks just incredible! And isn’t the pasta in italy just amazing? Every now + then I’ll make a pasta dish + my husband will comment, “ooh, this reminds me of a dish we had in Italy.” Greatest compliment ever!


The Squishy Monster January 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Sounds like a beautiful combination and the pics are worth a million bucks!


Suzanne Perazzini January 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Pasta is one thing I miss being grain free but I still cook it for my husband and son. This is a simple clean dish just the way the Italians do it. The quantity of sauce they use is always a fraction of what is used in other countries and so much the better for it. As you can imagine, my husband is very particular about how pasta is cooked and dressed. I have no doubt he would love your dish.


Carolyn Grace June 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm

You can buy gluten free pasta. I have a friend who needs this type of diet. I have cooked the gluten free for her and you really can’t detect any difference.


Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} January 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Jen – my mouth is WATERING! This pasta dish is simply stunning and tasty! I want it right NOW. Lovely, lovely photos!!!!


Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats January 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm

You had me at prosciutto & olive :)! Love the combination of black olives and prosciutto. Slightly salty and black olive has that soft yummy earthy taste that I can never describe. These combination sounds heavenly to me. ♥


CCU January 10, 2013 at 1:51 am

Colourful and extravagant in flavour – NICE :D



Suzanne January 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Mmmm…that’s what I want for dinner! I like the recipe and the photos are making me drool on my keyboard, always lovely Jen.


sippitysup January 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

My spidey instincts are kicking in too. Good thing this is printable. GREG


Magic of Spice January 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Congratulations on getting a pasta make, I have always loved mine! And what a stunning pasta dish!


Nami | Just One Cookbook January 11, 2013 at 1:28 am

Wow, you totally convinced me, twice – first with your delicious pictures, and then while I read your post. Simple pasta is awesome. The quality of ingredients are important and I must search for good ones to make this spaghetti. I’m excited. I know it’s going to be delicious!!


wok with ray January 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I love prosciutto and to add it in this spaghetti dish is special and if I may add – very beautiful. However, spaghetti made in the Philippines is something else. Growing up I’ve seen people us included used ketchup because we can’t afford real tomato sauce. Our parents (god bless them) would add hotdogs only on special occasions like our birthdays. Not very luxurious but we got by. Thank you for sharing this beautiful dish, Jen.
~ ray ~


The Kitchen Boudoir January 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Butter really does make everything better. I have a pasta sauce recipe that relies on it – simply stewed tomatoes, a halved onion, and a generous knob of butter that bubbles away happily on the stove for a few hours. Everyone is always shocked at the ratio of simplicity to deliciousness. This pasta dish looks incredible! Having a pasta maker changes your life in a truly scrumptious way – I look forward to more pasta posts.


Valerie January 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Oh, a pasta maker!! *jealous* :D (I’m a total pasta groupie too!) This dish looks refreshingly light and just all-around happy…kind of like a holiday in Italy. xo


Valerie January 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

p.s. Love the new blog header!! (Forgot to mention that earlier!)


Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers January 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I agree, less ingredients with good quality work very well together in a pasta dish. One of my favorites is the simple combination of fresh tomatoes, olives and sometimes with capers. Yum! Never tried pasta with prosciutto crudo. I feel like digging in with my fork right now! Yours look great, I will have to try it soon.


Cass @foodmyfriend January 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm

This looks incredible. I am all for the ‘less is more’ theory. Especially with pasta!


Raymund January 14, 2013 at 2:13 am

We had a similar reaction when I tried real Italian pasta and pizza, they look bland because of lesser ingredients compared to saucy Filipino counterparts but they are so tasty and delicious


Sandra's Easy Cooking January 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

Ha! You don’t have to tell me twice to leave the butter out!:)
This pasta looks and sounds divine, and your story is just beautiful! Now I am craving pasta while making Thai Curry hehehe…


Seana Nightingale January 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

I found this recipe via Pinterest and I’m SO GLAD I did! It took me a couple of days to procure all the ingredients (I was trying my hardest to locate the Taggiasca olives, but alas! they must be a small production item and certainly not available in the Napa Valley). And, since it’s winter, there’s no decent tomatoes, so I opted for a can of good Italian diced tomatoes. After researching the olives, I saw that there was another olive that’s grown nearby. I am not an olive expert, although I do appreciate them and their different attributes. I checked everywhere that would have olives in the Napa Valley and then finally ended up at Cost Plus as a last resort just to check. They didn’t have them, but they did have jarred Castelvetrano’s that were pitted :). I’d never had them so wasn’t really sure what to expect and just hoped they weren’t going to be too astringent. They were FABULOUS! So, not only did I find a phenomenally wonderful, fresh and lovely recipe, I even learned something about olives!
The dish was just exactly what I’d hoped for on a cold winter night, but not wanting anything super-heavy. I can’t wait until summer when I can use my own tomatoes in this dish; I know I’ll be making it regularly and can’t wait to share it with others. Thank you so much for your generous sharing!


Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I’m glad you liked the recipe!!! Me too, everytime I post, I learn something new about the ingredients I use :)


Rachelle @mommyimhungry January 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Hello, just wanted to say how wonderful this dish is! I made it using gluten free quinoa fettucini pasta. It was ready in about 30 mins. Thank you for sharing, glad I saw it on Pinterest. :)


heather January 23, 2013 at 8:45 am

Hahaha spidey instincts, so awesome!

The simpler the dish, often times the more beautiful it is – beautiful as always! xo


Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thanks, Heather!


bellini January 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I so wish I had have discovered this in a small trattoria in the streets of Sorrento, but the next best thing is preparing it in my own kitchen.


Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I agree!


Kathy Smith February 15, 2013 at 10:25 am

My daughter and I love pasta and this looks delicious. Can’t wait to make for us. Thanks for the recipe.


Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) February 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm

This looks amazing! Love all the photographs too. Doesn’t get much better than olives, prosciutto, and tomato. P


Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Laura, that’s true! Sometimes the simplest ingredients make the best dishes!


Amanda (High Heels to Hot Wheels) February 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

This looks amazing!!!!


Kathy February 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Just finished consuming a large portion of this awesome pasta! Thanks for sharing.


marla February 27, 2013 at 5:40 am

Such a gorgeous pasta recipe!


jan February 27, 2013 at 11:25 pm

This dish gets very high marks from me because it’s delicious, healthy, beautiful and easy to make. We loved it, and made it just as described with the exception of using some fresh locally-made linguine. I will be keeping this recipe in mind for a dinner party when I want a quick simple dish that offers a lot of bang for the buck. A very solid recipe.


Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thanks, Jan! I’m glad you liked it, because we like it, too!


Patti March 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

This was so fab!! It’s nice to have an actual review.. yummers


Heather File March 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Wow! This looks amaaazing. I wish I could just put my hand through the screen and eat this. Time to make this !


Benthe March 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

It was delicious!


Vanessa March 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I made this for dinner tonight and loved it! I had to make some substitutions because I was missing ingredients but it was phenomenal, and I can’t wait to try it again!


Nicole March 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Looks delicious. Can’t wait to try it out. Your photos are amazing.


Lisa May 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Made this last night. It was such a light and TASTY pasta dish. The flavors were spot on!
Had company after fixing this, the first thing out of their mouths was, “it smells.. like onion and garlic deliciousness ” really enjoyed this recipe . Thank you for sharing.


Ramona June 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Made this tonight with a few modifications based on the ingredients I had on hand (vermouth instead of white wine, basil instead of parsley) and it was so good! It was a really nice change up from the pasta dishes I usually make. This will become a regular in my menu line-up. Thanks!


Whitney June 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Had this for dinner tonight. It was delish!


Jeanne June 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Want to make this for 8. Just double? Would canned diced tomatoes work?


Jen June 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm

There are no hard and fast rules, Jeanne. Just double and use whatever you have on hand. It might be nicer to use fresh tomatoes, since it’s in season now here in the northern hemisphere. But if you can’t use fresh, go ahead with diced. I do like do drain the canned tomatoes first, so that it doesn’t become too “soupy”. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!


Katie June 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I made this last night and it was delicious! My husband loved it too. It was light but still satisfying. It will definitely make it into the regular dinner rotation.

I did do a couple things a bit different – I used canned diced tomatoes (drained) since I was lazy and canned olives since I couldn’t find better ones. But i bet the ones you listed would make it that much better! I also added a scoop of ricotta to make it a tad creamier/cheesier. Oh and I quickly pan fried the pancetta and set it aside before sauteing the garlic and shallots. Either way, I don’t think this recipe can go too wrong. The flavor combination is so fresh and yummy. Thanks for a great recipe!


Andrea June 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Growing up in Europe with a Sicilian stepfather we vacationed a lot in Italy, staying in hotels Italians would stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was always included and this pasta dish can stand up to all the fabulous dishes I had there. I was licking my bowl, it’s delish!!!


Kathy August 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Have made this numerous times and always a big hit in my house. Leftovers are even better. My husband and I really enjoy this dish and has become a staple in our house. Enjoy!! Made no changes followed the recipe to the T!


Vicky September 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm

This pasta dish was divine! I made no changes, it’s perfect and we loved it!


Deborah September 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

It was fantastic!

Just perfect. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, I am on a diet so didn’t use the butter or as much, and generally used more tomatoes etc, but it turned out fantastic.

Really good balance of flavour, with good ingredients. Very tasty. It works perfectly well, even with the lighter version (no parmesan/oil/butter)!


Cristina @ Being a Green Bean October 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I was so excited to make this less-is-more pasta dish and it did not disappoint.

Bonus points for making me laugh out loud with your reference to filipino spaghetti. I remember the first time I tried it (McSpaghetti!) and was puzzled by the sweet taste and mushy texture.

This recipe, on the other hand… masarap!


gayle November 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

Like others I have fallen in love with the tantalizing pic of your beautiful pasta dish. I have all the ingredients at home ‘cept the olives and wanna make it …like yesterday!


Amy Evans November 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm

On my way now to Fairway to get the ingredients for this. My mouth is watering just thinking of how delicious this is going to be!! I’ll keep you posted


Amy Evans November 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

OMG this was phenomenal!!! So tasty!!! I used kalamata olives instead. My parents were in heaven eating it. Thanks for posting, it’s a definite keeper!!!


Davette December 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I am not a big fan of cooking with wine. Whet could I use in place of the white wine??


Jen January 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

@Davette, save some of your salted pasta cooking water and you can use that instead! Enjoy!


Toby Witte January 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm

That is one gorgeous dish. I tried a very easy pasta and prosciutto dish with my girls: – but that was nothing compared to this. Love the write up!


Chris March 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I am Finally making this – tonight, for our anniversary dinner. Sadly, the prosciutto didn’t make it into my bag home from the grocery store :( – but not to worry, I’m using pancetta instead and started with that and am adding the other ingredients as instructed. I think it’ll be a fine substitution, I can hardly wait to dish it up and dig in!


Jen July 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Pancetta is a fine substitution. Hope you had a wonderful dinner!


Christina May 29, 2014 at 8:04 am

Hi there!

I made this last weekend and while my version came out “okay”, I felt it could’ve been better.

My version came out with a much more red tint to the pasta than yours. Could I have possibly cooked the tomatoes too long? Also, I did some research and found that a good dry, white cooking wine could be Sauvignon Blanc, which was what I used. I am determined to make it look like yours and taste as good as yours looks. Any pointers to improve my meal next time?

OH! And I did not use the remaining pasta water as mine was not dry before I added the pasta. Could this be something to do next time?


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