March 1, 2008
I have been very busy this week with planning my event on Monday, working 2 jobs and getting ready for house guests this weekend. But I still found a little time to cook some simple dinners during the week. When I need something in a pinch without having to go to the grocery store as all the ingredients tend to be in my pantry, I turn to an Italian favorite: the Spaghettata. (It's also Daniel's favorite. He's so easy to please).
This loosely translates as a big, imformal bowl of spaghetti, usually prepared by college students after a late night of partying. In the U.S. after drunken late nights we order (bad) pizza or eat fast food -the only thing open in alot of cities- on our way home. But in Italy they go to someone's house and put on a big spaghetti fest. Alternatively, and this is one of my fondest late-night memories from Italy, they stop at the 'pasticceria' (bakery) for fresh, hot buttery 'cornetti' (croissants) just out of the oven at 3:00 a.m.!
So here is my spaghettata recipe. It's probably the first dish I learned how to make. I was in college. My mom had her version but it cooked long and slowly and she served it on Sundays with meatballs and sausage. This one is meant to be quick and easy. It's in every Italian's repertoire. Even the mamma's boys. Nothing is precise about it. throw it all in the pan and cook it up late one night when you're hungry and don't have lots of time- Enjoy!
Start with olive oil in a pan, throw in some cubed pancetta (I realize not everyone has this on hand at all times, so omit it if you don't)
Add chopped onions and some garlic. Don't let it cook too long.
Throw in a can of diced tomoatoes (or fresh if you have them)
Add some tomato paste to thicken it up...
Season with salt and pepper and I always add some red chili flakes for a bite.
Sometimes I add capers or chopped black olives, but only if I have them...
Meanwhile, boil your water, salt it generously, and add your pasta of choice (spaghetti or linguine are traditional)
Drain the pasta and leave a little of the cooking water in the pot (this starchy water helps the sauce to stick).
Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot you cooked it in and toss well, add a little fresh parmigiano and parsely if you have it and eat immediately!