Updated: Jan 1, 2022
It's almost too easy. Seems a tad cliche; well, that's because it is! I contemplated waiting to post the Midnight Pasta recipe for the summer, when it's great on a hot summer night with a small glass of wine and big glass of water, but it's too good not to share. Especially now. And what better night than New Year's Eve?
You're probably wondering why I waited until New Year's Eve Day to post this. And cursing me perhaps that I haven't given enough time to prepare a list and buy the ingredients. It seems like the perfect impromptu blog as it usually is a great impromptu midnight snack.
I've heard this called "Pantry Pasta" since most of the ingredients are found as pantry staples. "Drunk Pasta" is another name I've heard. Putting it together in the quick 15 minutes it takes is the only thing you need after a long night out!
Midnight Pasta is the fun name to a traditional style pasta. Hailing from the Campania region of Italy, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio could be the most popular food of Naples, second only to well, pizza of course!
Its popularity can be attributed to it being simple to prepare and the fact that it makes use of inexpensive readily available pantry ingredients.
My college roommate Anita and I would make it for dinner, quite often on Thursdays. Why Thursdays? Well, that was pasta night! (Mr. DeSimone (more affectionately known as Mr. Frank- Anita’s dad) would stock our pantry with these ingredients and clams- and we used them!!). And often I wonder why we never changed the day of the week and ate it then went barhopping. Not only does Spaghetti Aglio e Olio ward off vampires, it also wards off fraternity brothers! (hehe)
Cooking Class with Carol
This simple recipe really leaves an impact in cuisine. Don't save this just for winter dining. It is delish any time of day, month and year!
In my opinion, it's especially delicious in the summer when the air is hot and the hot pepper flakes even hotter. Did you know that eating spicy food in hot weather raises your internal body temperature? For some people this will cause them to sweat and when the sweat dries, cools off your body on those sultry hot evenings.
There's not much to this recipe. You know what that means? Quality is important. Great extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiana Reggiano, and fresh garlic are important for fantastic flavors
Thinly slicing the garlic is, in my opinion, the best way to eat garlic in this dish. You can leave them crushed and fish them out when done, but it defeats the purpose of eating Aligio e Olio. If you don’t believe me, check out this video about Paulie Cicero: (wink wink)
The anchovies, well, again, they're kind of important to the depth of flavor this pasta has with such minimal ingredients. Like the Caesar Salad, you won't even see them in the pasta but will miss them if they are not there.
This is the time to try imported pastas. Italian pasta typically has strict government quality standards and control around it, and is made with 100% durum wheat, called semolina flour, or semola de grano duro in Italian. This means the pasta is high in protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins. Semolina can support weight loss, heart health and digestion.
Yes, it will be more expensive than other domestic pastas. You will probably spend $5-6 for a pound of pasta but considering this is one of 5 ingredients (most others pantry staples) it will still be an inexpensive meal if you splurge for it.
•1 large head of garlic, cloves shaved thinly by hand or with mandolin
•1/2 cup plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
•1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
•1 pound spaghetti (I love bucatini)
•4-5 oil packed anchovy fillets (not fresh, canned)
•1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
•juice of one lemon
•Freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
What to Do
Start a pot of water to cook the pasta. Prep the remaining ingredients while you wait for it to come to a boil. Salt the water and start the pasta. Cook it according to package directions for al dente—depending on the brand, it should take 8 to 10 minutes.
When the pasta goes in the water, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over a medium-low flame. Add the garlic and stir to coat with oil. Add the anchovies, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. If the garlic starts to brown, reduce heat to low—you just want the flavors to combine and the anchovies to melt into the sauce. Turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to finish cooking.
Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce in the skillet and toss to combine, adding a little pasta water if it seems dry—I added about 3 tablespoons. Add parsley and lemon juice— toss to combine.
Season with freshly ground black pepper. Grate some Parmiggiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano over the plates and serve.
For versatility and variation add cooked shrimp, mussels or clams.