It was Sunday evening after the movies and it was time to eat sooner if not later. I was in the mood for a spaghettata — the charmingly Italian name for a late night bowl of pasta.
A spaghettata is all about cooking with pantry ingredients. It goes hand in hand with noisy nights with friends stuffed around the kitchen table filled with conversation. It’s symbolic for spontaneity in other words.
With the iconic spaghetti aglio e olio in mind and a pan of water already starting to boil — I found good reason to use the bunch of green garlic that had been calling to me all weekend from its glass jar on the kitchen counter.
The slightly salty butter I had in the cupboard came to good use and made for delicious sauteed spicy red pepper.
Although definitely not traditionally Italian — after all butter is rarely combined with garlic (and definitely not when making a pasta that goes by the name of “garlic and oil”), this pasta was well worth the making. In fact, I think my Italian friends just might approve!
I made the same dish for lunch yesterday in order to finish up some ingredients while documenting my “throw it in the pan” methodology from the weekend. Below you will find my recipe, enough for a lunch or light dinner for two.
- 150 grams of dried spaghetti or spaghettini pasta
- 10 grams of fresh wild garlic
- 1 spicy red pepper
- 30 grams of organic butter with a touch of fleur de sel
- simple unsalted butter will do too
- one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- one tablespoon of coarse sea salt for the pasta water
Fill a pan with enough water to let the pasta swim and add a good pinch of coarse sea salt. Taste the water and make sure it reminds you of a day at the beach with sea water on your lips. This may sound odd, but well-salted water is the key to a good bowl of pasta and adding salt later will never compensate.
Once the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the pasta and cook it al dente. Meanwhile wash the red pepper; cut it in half and slice it open lengthwise. Remove the seeds of the pepper if you prefer mild flavors, and leave them if you like a touch of spice. Cut the pepper into thin ribbons and chop it very fine.
Rinse the green garlic and chop it coarsely with a sharp knife. Drain the pasta once cooked, making sure to save a cup of the pasta water. Melt the butter in a skillet and stir fry the red peppers a moment before adding the pasta. Drizzle in the olive oil and toss the pasta to coat it with melted butter. Add a splash or two of pasta water to keep the pasta from sticking. Once the ingredients are well heated, stir in the chopped green garlic.
Serve the pasta right away as is! Embellishments are after all, unnecessary when the ingredients are pure and good !
When I was growing up my mother’s friends always weighed their pasta before cooking it. Depending on the appetite of those coming to the table, 50-75 grams of dried pasta were perfect for a lunch with more than one course. For especially hungry guests 100 grams of dried pasta was accurately measured and put into the boiling water.
This method is the perfect way to keep from having leftovers.