Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino for the World Pasta Day
Federico Fellini used to say, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
Pasta, more than any other ingredient, represents the Italian lifestyle through the world; it’s not just about the basic food of our daily diet, but it’s a symbol of our love for conviviality, for a family table that nourishes the body and the soul.
I always loved pasta. As a child I hated meat and even today I never can say no to a spaghetti dish. Honestly, I have not yet found a good reason to do it!
My childhood pasta recipes are tied to Southern Italy – lots of pulses, beans and tomato sauce on weekdays, and the luscious of meat sauce on Sunday.
We used to make fresh pasta just for the Feasts. On Christmas or Easter we made the traditional “maccheroni.”
Many people ask me about the first dish I cooked in my life. Unfortunately I don’t remember it, but I remember my first job in the kitchen: to arrange the maccheroni on a wooden board covered with towels to let them dry.
The day before the family lunch, my mother used to prepare the meat sauce and the fresh pasta… for almost 30 people. There were always 3 or 4 women helping her, but she was the expert; she was able to recognize the right pasta consistency more than any other one.
I remember my mother kneading a huge amount of semolina flour, eggs, and water for several minutes. One the dough was ready, the women, sitting around the table, started to break off small pieces of dough. The dough was rolled around a thin reed stick and stretched to form a long “maccherone.” Once the pasta was ready it was removed quickly from the stick and thrown on the wooden table. They worked so fast, gossiping and laughing.
The whole process lasted at least 4 hours and I couldn’t get distracted because the pasta piled up, so it was necessary to pick it and line it up on the floured towels close each other.
It was so boring.
Many times there was not enough space so there was pasta in every kitchen corner and on the beds… and there was always someone sitting on it by mistake.
But the most used pasta in my home was spaghetti. My father loved them—always the same brand, always n. 5, always with homemade tomato sauce.
And how to forget the midnight “spaghettate” on Saturday nights, coming back home hungry with friends. Usually they were simply dressed with garlic and oil, but I remember a time when my cousin stole the meat sauce that was ready for the Sunday lunch.
Nowadays I often choose seasonal vegetables for my pasta, adding some nuts or cheese when I want to make something special.
The fresh pasta is a staple of my cooking class. Everybody wants to learn how to make it and I’m happy to show them that all we need is a handful of flour and an egg…and the magic happens.
To celebrate World Pasta Day, I choose a simple pasta, my favourite one, a dish that I prepare when I need some comfort or when I come back home after travel: spaghetti with garlic and oil.
- Many of you think that the fresh pasta is always the best choice. Not at all. We choose the shape and type of pasta depending on the sauce. Truffle, porcini mushrooms, and Bolognese ragu call for fresh pasta; but tomato sauce, carbonara and—to me—seafood are for dried pasta.
- Pasta cooks in plenty of boiling water. It’s not necessary to measure it, but just to have an idea if you are a beginner remember the rule: 1 litre of water for each 100 g. of pasta.
- Salt is fundamental, and I mean a lot of salt. Yes, we used to say pasta water should be “like the sea water.” Even here there is a ratio: 15 g. salt for each litre of water. Taste it: if it’s terrible, it’s good to cook the pasta.
- Do not add oil in the water. If the dry pasta sticks together probably you are not using enough water; if your fresh tagliatelle are sticky, unfortunately there is nothing that the oil can do to help you.
- Don’t stir always; it’s pasta, not risotto.
- And finally, the Mother of the rules: always finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Prepare your sauce in a large pan, then a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking, transfer the pasta into the pan. Now, yes, stir your pasta vigorously, shaking the pan—and why not even shake your whole body, because you are about to eat a delicious bowl of pasta.
Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino
A nice bunch of fresh parsley ( 35 g. if you need an indication)
3 garlic cloves
1 small green sweet chilli
red hot chilli to taste
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200 g. good quality dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons fresh grated pecorino Romano
- Fill the pasta pot with plenty of water and bring to the boil;
- Wash and drain the parsley and dry it with kitchen paper; separate the leaves from the stalks, chop the leaves very thinly and set aside the stalks without chopping them;
- Slice the green chilli and set aside;
- Taste the red hot chilli and follow your taste to decide how much to use of it; then and slice it and set aside;
- Peel the garlic cloves: chop thinly one of them and leave the rest whole.
- In a large pan heat 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at medium temperature;
- Add the parsley stalks and the whole garlic cloves and let it cook for a couple of minutes or until you see that the garlic start to brown
- Take out the stalks and the whole garlic cloves and add the chopped garlic, half of the chopped parsley and both chillies. Cook at low heat for a couple of minutes: it’s important that the oil takes the flavour, but don’t brown the garlic;
- Season with salt and pepper, turn the flame of and set aside;
- When the pasta water is boiling season it with a generous amount of sea salt and add the pasta;
- 3 minutes before the end of the cooking, turn on the heat to the large pan with the oil and transfer the spaghetti using a big fork. Add a couple of laddles of pasta cooking water and finish the cooking stirring the spaghetti .
- Out of the flame add the grated pecorino, stir and serve immediately.
Discover my favorite pasta brand here
More info about World Pasta Day here
More pasta recipes here