Makes 4 servings

Olive tapenade, an earthy, salty paste of olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and other flavorings, is easy to find jarred in specialty shops. But when you whip up a batch yourself at home, the flavors pop in a surprising way that makes you never want to buy it in a jar again. The tapenade proportions are based on experimentation, based on what usually is in the jarred versions. You can play with the amounts, adjusting with more capers or orange zest instead of lemon or what have you. The key is to start with good quality olives.

¾ cup pitted green olives

1 clove garlic

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1 anchovy fillet, rinsed

1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound linguine

4 Italian pork or turkey sausage links

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano or aged Asiago

2 cups baby arugula leaves

1. For the tapenade, pulse the olives, garlic, anchovy, capers and lemon zest in a food processor to achieve a coarse paste. Add the olive oil if needed to achieve desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed.

2. Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine; cook, stirring to make sure the strands do not stick together or to the bottom of the pot, until al dente, nine to 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the sausages in a skillet over medium heat until browned on all sides and cooked through. Slice into bite-size pieces, about a half-inch wide.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta in a bowl with the tapenade so the strands are lightly coated, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Toss again with the sausage and cheese. Serve, topped with arugula.

Joe Gray, the Chicago Tribune