Late Night Pleasures of the Pasta Persuasion
When it comes to Italian food, the simpler, the better for me. With so many great ingredients like easy eating tomatoes, large leaf basil and amazing Italian cheeses, I don't see the need to 'jazz' things up with an over complicated plate of food. If I'm eating out (and eating carbs that month!) I'll always gravitate towards the gnocchi done in a sage butter, or a ravioli modestly dressed in some peppery olive oil and a few shavings of Pecorino.
Another favourite is the recipe I'm sharing here, Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (garlic, oil & chilli) or Midnight Spaghetti as it's also known. This is not only one of the tastiest dishes I know, it's also one of the easiest and, if you use fresh pasta (I know, I know not really the done thing but chop, chop, busy, busy woman here) it's one of the quickest.
Traditionally dried red chilli flakes are used, and by all means substitute them here if you'd prefer, but I like the colour and flavour of fresh. The 'sauce' takes next to no time, so I prepare all of the ingredients - all four of them - before I start the cooking process. 6 cloves of garlic sounds a lot but the flavour is tamed a little by slicing rather than being minced through a garlic press (which results in a stronger flavour) and by being 'boiled' in a little cooking water. And remember, this is a dish for four, so you need to be bold.
Some people are tempted to leave out the parsley but I'd urge you not to as it adds a lovely clean freshness to the dish. Enjoy on its own as a light lunch or serve as a side with some pan fried chicken or fish.
INGREDIENTS FOR FOUR
2 or 3 chopped fresh red chillies (or 1/2-1 tsp dried chilli flakes)
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 2/3 minced if preferred)
Pack of fresh spaghetti
A bunch of flat leaf parsley
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Padana cheese (to taste)
1. Add some salt to the water and bring it to the boil.
2. In a pan big enough to hold the spaghetti once cooked, add 1/3 of the oil, all of the garlic and chilies and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat or turn to the lowest setting making sure the garlic doesn't burn.
3. Add the fresh spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes before scooping out a cup of cooking water. Continue to cook the spaghetti as per package instructions, usually for another 2 or 3 minutes or longer if using dried pasta.
4. Return the oil, garlic and chillies to heat and add half the cup of cooking water, along with a good pinch of salt. Heat until it 'bubbles' then, with a spaghetti spoon, lift the cooked spaghetti out of the water and add to the pan with the oil, garlic and chillies, stirring as you go.
5. Next, add the remaining oil, again stirring to coat each strand of pasta, adding more of the cooking water if needed, and finish in the pan with a large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley.
6. Serve immediately on to warm plates and top with the grated to taste (I like to stir my cheese in, then add more) and enjoy!
Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce