You’re hungry, you’re tired, maybe it’s late at night, maybe you just got home from a long day at work, you want food and you want it now. You contemplate running out to grab something, but wait! You can have this tasty pasta in your belly in less time than it would take you to find your keys and get to your car. No kidding. Or maybe you are wondering what to do with the “anchovy” paste you just made (because you DID make it already, right?), or maybe you just want something super delicious, perhaps you were a fan of buttered noodles as a kid and want a more “grown-up” version….there are so very many reasons why you should be making this, and so many reasons why you might just end up making this a thousand times over. Also, and maybe i’m alone in this, but i love that the pasta looks almost naked and yet has a wonderfully rich flavour and aroma, sometimes simple wins the game.
1 lb cappellini
Water + salt for cooking pasta
2-4 Tbsp “anchovy” paste
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (medium-coarse)
The following are all optional (but recommended):
2 Tbsp wine or citrus (sake, dry vermouth, lemon juice, etc)
2 tsp dried herb or 2 Tbsp fresh herb (italian seasoning, rosemary, basil, parsley, etc)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
For topping (again, optional):
¼ cup of finely chopped toasted nuts or hard grated cheese, AND/OR 2 Tbsp fresh chopped herb
Want to change up the portions?
Here is a PER serving (we're assuming you like "real" dinner portions) recipe you can scale easily however you want!
Per ¼ lb of pasta:
½ - 1 Tbsp “anchovy” paste
½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) extra virgin olive oil
½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) minced garlic
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper (medium-coarse)
½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) white wine or citrus (sake, dry vermouth, lemon juice, etc) (optional)
½ tsp dried herb or ½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) fresh herb (italian seasoning, rosemary, basil, parsley, etc) (optional)
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 Tbsp of finely chopped toasted nuts or hard grated cheese, AND/OR ½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) fresh chopped herb (optional)
Set a large pot of water on stove to boil
Heat a pan (just large enough to hold all your pasta) over medium heat, once heated add olive oil and then garlic, sautee just until garlic is golden
Add in remaining minus the wine/acid and any toppings you’re using, and cook briefly (½ - 1 minute), add in wine/acid and remove from heat
When water is boiling hard, add salt (about 2 Tbsp per lb of pasta) and then pasta, cook 1 minute LESS than directions for “al dente”
Turn heat on pasta to low, add 1 cup of pasta water (or ¼ cup per serving) to the sauce pan, drain pasta and add to pan with sauce, place on burner that pasta was cooking on
Stir, flip, shimmy pasta around in pan to coat evenly and cook just until pasta is al dente and liquid is absorbed (this happens REALLY quick if you're using cappellini)
Serve immediately sprinkled with whatever topping(s) you may or may not be using
This is our whole setup. That’s it. (minus the pasta of course) So let’s go over this quick so you can be on your way to yum. The four items that are non-negotiable here are the garlic (the aglio), the olive oil (the olio), the “anchovy” paste (the “alice” — pronounced “aleechay”, not “alice” like in wonderland) and black pepper (preferably somewhat coarsely ground.) The garlic provides pep and zing, the olive oil (use a good flavourful one here) provides grassy and buttery notes, the “anchovy” paste provides umami, richness, and salt, the black pepper enhances everything and adds woodsy notes and spice. Everything else can be tinkered with to use whatever you have on hand or to fit your mood. You’ll want some sort of acid or white wine, lemon juice, sake, vermouth, etc (we used sake.) This will help to brighten things up a bit and help to deglaze the pan so none of the yummy bits get left behind! You’ll also want some dried or fresh herbs, italian seasoning, basil, oregano, parsley, whatever you’d like to use (we used italian seasoning) and optionally you can throw in some crushed red pepper for extra spice. If you feel like gilding the lily, you can top everything off with some chopped fresh herb, some finely chopped toasted nuts (we used pecans), or some grated hard cheese (dairy or non-dairy)….but that’s all just extra nom, it’s not necessary.
Now, you can use whatever pasta you want here (preferably a long pasta for this) but to keep the time down, and because it’s friggin amazing with it, we used cappellini (angel hair.) If you use another pasta, it will increase the time accordingly, but really, use the cappellini, it really is the perfect match for this. To start everything off, set your pot of water on the stove to get it boiling, and set a pan (large enough to hold all your pasta) over medium heat to start warming. Then mince up your garlic, add your olive oil to the pan and toss in the garlic, sauteeing just until golden, then throw in everything but the wine/acid and sautee briefly (just like 30 seconds to a minute) and toss in your wine/acid and pull it off the heat (you can turn that burner off, don’t leave your pan on it though or everything could scorch.) When your water is boiling hard, salt it (never salt your water before it’s boiling, the salt can pit or discolor your pot) and add in your pasta, stirring well. Cook pasta just 1 minute less that the package lists for “al dente”, now take some of your pasta water (the amount depends on how much pasta you’re making) and throw it into your pan with the “sauce”, drain the pasta and add to pan, turn the heat down to low (where your pasta was cooking), stir/toss/slip to coat the pasta evenly and cook for just a minute until the pasta is done and all the liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle it with whatever you’d like (or don’t) and serve up right away! Nosh it down! You might look at the recipe and say “hey! 5 minutes prep + 15 minutes cook isn’t a 15 minute dish!” BUT you’re wrong. The prep happens after you start the water, so HA! Also, i’m providing you with an ingredient list PER SERVING in addition to the “regular” recipe, so you can easily scale it to whatever amount you want, easy peasy.