I know an awful lot of people are intimidated by the kitchen. Many think preparing a good meal takes a lot of time and energy, a massive grocery shopping trip, or a lot of culinary skill and an iron-clad recipe.
It ain’t so, my friends. Dinner: it’s not rocket science.
Welcome to YMC’s newest blog on that very subject! I’m here to improve your Culinary IQ, boost your Kitchen Confidence, and load you up with easy Real-Food Recipes that you can prepare fast, throw in the slow-cooker, or make-ahead for your busy days. The kitchen doesn’t have to be your arch-nemesis; I’ll help show you the way.
Today, say hello to my little friend Spaghetti Olio e Aglio (literally, Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic)--Italian’s original fast food. It may not look like it, but it’s a rock-star in the kitchen.
Don’t bother with the drive-thru! This recipe comes together in about 10 minutes—the same amount of time that it takes to cook the spaghetti. It takes no special ingredients. It’s elegant and delicious as is, but the real beauty of this recipe is its flexibility.
It is a blank canvas that invites your experimentation.
The secret to the best Spaghetti Olio e Aglio is to infuse good extra virgin Olive oil with garlic. Use whole garlic cloves, chop the garlic fine, and cook the garlic in the oil until it’s golden—but don’t let the garlic cook to brown. Browning the garlic will give your oil a bitter taste. If you prefer a stronger garlic taste, make sure you crush your garlic well with the flat of your knife before mincing.
While plenty delicious on its own, Spaghetti with Olive Oil and Garlic can be the foundation of dozens of dishes. Top it with grilled chicken or bacon—it’s a great way to use up leftover meats. Sauté up some vegetables and toss the pasta with some sundried tomatoes and Parmesan or Asiago cheese for a satisfying vegetarian dish. Serve it atop a bed of spinach, or with a beautiful side salad and a glass of white wine.
The only limit is your imagination!
Spaghetti Olio e Aglio (literally) is a delicious, elegant, fast and versatile dish that you can dress up however you please.
1lb/450g dried spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
freshly cracked black pepper
chopped fresh or dried parsley
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Set a large pot of water to boil, and add a scant handful (roughly 1 1/2 tablespoons or so) of coarse salt. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes, until tender but still somewhat firm to the bite.
While the spaghetti cooks, set a small saucepan on low heat with the olive oil, and mince the garlic. Add the garlic to the olive oil with a small pinch of salt, raise the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 4 minutes, or until garlic begins to turn golden. Remove it from heat.
Drain the pasta, set the pot on a hot-pad on the counter, and return the spaghetti to the pan.
Pour the olive oil and garlic over the top, and toss the spaghetti with a little parsley. If the pasta seems a little dry, drizzle a little more olive oil over the pasta and toss again.
Taste and add some fresh cracked pepper and a little table salt to preferences. Garnish with sundried tomatoes and grated cheese if desired. Serve immediately.
If you tend to buy your garlic pre-minced in jars because you have difficulty with the cloves, here’s an easy tip for peeling garlic: slice off the root of the clove before attempting to peel it; this will loosen the skin. If the skin is particularly stubborn and still won’t peel easily, crush the garlic clove slightly with the flat side of your knife, and the skin should slide right off.
This is Anne's first post for her new food and cooking blog Dinner: It's Not Rocket Science. Look here soon for more great recipes, and to perhaps discover some of the "why's" of cooking and cuisine.