Friday, August 31, 2007
If I could only eat one type of food it would definitely be pasta. I love all shapes and textures and the endless variety of sauces from basic to sophisticated. My favorite pasta of all time is the simplest: linguine with olive oil and garlic. It’s pantry pasta: it can be whipped up in a few minutes with ingredients you probably already have on hand. It’s great for dinner and the leftovers are also delicious cold the next day (or the next several days!). The only tricky thing about my favorite recipe, which is from Cook's Illustrated, is watching the garlic. Cook it for too long and you have unpleasant burnt garlic. Under-cook it and you have garlic that’s too strong and raw. The trick is to stand at the stove watching it while it cooks and remove it as soon as it starts to turn golden, remembering that it will continue to cook for a little bit once you remove it from the heat. My cookbook is dog-eared and splattered with olive oil on this recipe's page as I have made it so many times.
Spaghetti (or linguine which I prefer) with Garlic and Olive Oil from Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe
The garlic is quickly and easily pureed with a garlic press. Alternatively, you can mince it with a chef’s knife, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and continue to mince to a paste, but be sure to reduce the amount of salt cooked with the oil and garlic to 1/2 teaspoon. Diluting the garlic with a bit of water before sautéing ensures a mild, even garlic flavor and helps to prevent burning. Although not a pantry item, parsley adds a fresh herbal flavor and should be used if you have some on hand. If you like, cook 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste) along with the garlic and oil.
4 medium cloves garlic , peeled, processed through garlic press, and mixed with 1 teaspoon water (see note)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Ground black pepper
1. Heat oil, garlic, optional pepper flakes, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic turns golden but not brown, about 5 minutes; remove pan from heat.
2. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook until al dente. Reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid, drain pasta and return to pot. Add garlic mixture, reserved pasta cooking liquid, and optional parsley; toss well to coat. Adjust seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.