Foglie D’Ulivo with Pancetta & Olives

By Published On: June 22nd, 2020

Delicate fresh pasta ‘olive leaves’ are the perfect partner to a salty, flavourful pancetta and black olive sauce. Learn how to make this visual and culinary Italian delight.

Foglie D'Ulivo

We eat with our eyes right? Who could fail to be impressed with this beautifully vibrant, clever little bowl of pasta!? Foglie D’Ulivo (translated as Olive Leaves) with Pancetta and Olives is a treat on the eyes AND the taste buds. The Italians have a mind boggling array of hand shaped pasta - some simple, some couples, some bizarre. Foglie D'Ulivo are amongst some of the most beautiful, don't you think?

Foglie D'Ulivo

Shaping fresh spinach pasta into olive leaves.

Who would have thunk it? Pasta could be shaped into pretty convincing leaves! We'll the reality is actually really rather simple. Creating these delightful little pasta treats is simple and it all starts with making the leaves yourself - you'll be surprised how easy that is - it's all done in a few super simple steps (a child could do it - actually a child would LOVE to do this!).

  1. Wilt some spinach in a pan - 2 minutes (easy, right!?)
  2. Puree the spinach with a stick blender - 30 seconds (still keeping it simple)
  3. Mix the puree with the flour and a little bit of water to form a dough (tired yet?)
  4. Knead the dough for 15 minutes (OK you might be a little tired after that, so...)
  5. Rest for 30 minutes (You and the pasta dough)
  6. Make the little pasta shapes (This is time consuming, but hardly taxing - take a seat and lose yourself in leaf making satisfaction)
  7. Make the sauce - 10 mins!!
  8. Boil the pasta - 2 mins!!!
  9. Mix and eat! (1-2 mins)

That's simple enough right!? What you end up with is a real superstar of a pasta dish. The sauce is a knock-out, with umami for days and a perfect salty note to soak into the soft, herbaceous pasta leaves.

How to make the best homemade pasta WITHOUT eggs.

Everyone I talk to is afraid of making their own pasta at home. They all assume it's a real drama to make. Most believe they'll be slaving over a bench for hours. The truth couldn't me more different. Many people assume all fresh pasta is egg based pasta, but a lot don't realise that durum wheat or semolina pasta is an option and super super easy to make at home. Semola flour (semolina flour) is the type of flour used for most commercially available dried pastas in our stores. Having no eggs, means it has a much longer shelf life. But did you know that Italian nonnas have (and still are) creating pasta without eggs at home for Centuries? It's every bit as delicious. The dough can be moulded and shaped into infinite amount of shapes, ribbons and sheets. And it's also easy to colour your pasta using just water and natural colouring, like in this case - spinach.

It's a simple recipe of flour water and spinach, kneaded into a soft dough, then shaped into whatever shape you wish. The leaves are created simply, by dragging a knife over a little worm shape of the pasta dough. It creates a perfect little leaf, sometimes not so perfect - but that's the charm! It's great activity for a rainy afternoon or a day when you're stuck at home (2020 right!). You'll be churning out the leaves in no time, and enjoying a massive bowl of this fantastic olive leaf pasta with the most insanely tasty pancetta and olive sauce. People will talk about it for weeks!

Making fresh spinach pasta WITH eggs

For a richer, more decadent version, you CAN also create Foglie D'Ulivo using fresh egg pasta too. Use my guide on How To Make Fresh Egg Pasta for this! To create a spinach version of this pasta, just replace one of the eggs with 1-2 tablespoons of spinach puree. Then, once you've made your dough - come back to this recipe and finish the dish!

More fresh pasta recipes.

I can't get enough pasta in my life. I'd eat it all day, every day if I could. Check out some of my other delicious fresh pasta recipes to try. I just KNOW you're going to love each and every one.

Foglie D'Ulivo

Foglie D'ulivo with Pancetta & Olives

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Recipe by Lee
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 3
Calories (per serving) | 751

Video Recipe


For the Foglie, pasta

  • 2 cups semola flour (semolina flour)
  • 3 oz spinach leaves (90g)

For the sauce


  • Heat a pan over a moderate heat, and when hot throw in 1/4 cup water. Quickly follow with the spinach leaves and then pop on a lid. Let the spinach cook for 1-2 minutes until wilted.
    Remove from the pan when still hot, puree in a food processor or with a stick blender until completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Tip the flour onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add the spinach and some of the water to the well. Using a fork, whisk the spinach , gradually adding flour as you go, until too thick to whisk. Then, using your hands, begin bringing the pasta together. Add a little more water at a time until everything comes together.
    Foglie D'Ulivo
  • Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.
    Cover with a bowl or plastic and rest for 30 minutes.
    Foglie D'Ulivo
  • When rested cut the dough into 4 pieces. Cover three and take off a slice of dough and roll into a long, thin sausage (about the width of a pencil. Cut the pasta sausage into 2 inch (5cm) pieces.
    Foglie D'Ulivo
  • Using a knife, press the blade on a sideways angle and push down and away from yourself to flatten out the dough. As you do this, using your free hand, stop the dough from curling up on itself – press it gently to help form the leaf shape.
    Foglie D'Ulivo
  • Repeat this process with all your dough. Arrange the leaves on a floured platter- keep them floured to avoid any sticking.
  • Bring a large pan of generously salted water to a rolling boil.

Making the sauce

  • Add the pancetta and oil to a large, cold frying pan. Turn on the heat and let the pancetta come to a fry over a moderate temperature. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until most of the fat has rendered out. Be careful to not let it burn.
  • Pour in the wine and let it sizzle briefly then add the olives and about ½ cup water – reduce the heat until it’s barely simmering.
  • Pop your Foglie pasta into the water and cook for 1-2 minutes. Using a sieve, fish out the pasta and tip them into the pancetta. Quickly add the cheese and then about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Stir well to incorporate everything and serve immediately.
  • Sprinkle with more cheese and season with a bit of freshly ground black pepper.


Calories: 751kcal (38%) | Carbohydrates: 69g (23%) | Protein: 23g (46%) | Fat: 36g (55%) | Saturated Fat: 12g (75%) | Cholesterol: 49mg (16%) | Sodium: 1021mg (44%) | Potassium: 432mg (12%) | Fiber: 4g (17%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 2898IU (58%) | Vitamin C: 8mg (10%) | Calcium: 257mg (26%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)
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Foglie D'Ulivo

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