Monday, March 2, 2015

Pasta Perfect: Aglio Olio e peperoncino

For a foodie there is nothing more sublime then biting into a piece of Pasta that has been cooked just right. Add a burst of flavor from fresh garlic and a hint of heat from chilli flakes tied together with the silky texture of olive oil and you are sure to be transported into sheer bliss.

I ALWAYS have several packages of dried pasta in my pantry, and the Penne shape is the preferred choice for the boys at home....something about its shape and ridges that hold on to a sauce real well!

When I'm all out of ideas and the fridge is nearing empty, a big bowl of Aglio Olio e peperoncino is the dish I love to make. Good quality olive oil, loads of freshly minced garlic, a generous pinch of bright red chilli flakes, chopped parsley and you have made a soul satisfying dish. The trick to making this fabulous bowl of pasta is cooking the pasta only 90% through and using a very good quality extra virgin olive oil that is from the first cold pressing. The flavor of the oil is very important as it adds a bit of fruity acidity to the dish. However if you don't have a good EVOO, just add some lemon/lime zest to the pasta.

1 package dried pasta of your choice (approx 500 gms), cooked al dente
6-8 tbsp EVOO ( olive oil)
3-4 tbsp minced/finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp lime zest (optional)

Bring a large pot of water (3-4 ltr) to a boil. Add 2 tsp of salt, the dried pasta and let it cook on a medium flame for about 8 mins or as per the directions on the package. When about 90% cooked (still a bit firm to the bite) remove from heat and drain the pasta, keeping aside 200 ml of the drained water. Set aside. Heat olive oil, add minced garlic, chili flakes and parsley and let it sizzle for a minute. In a large bowl place the pasta and add the olive oil mixture, add lemon zest and toss so that all the pasta is coated, adding few tablespoons at a time of the pasta water to keep it moist. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Serve immediately into individual bowls and garnish with some fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese! Mangia!

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