Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16: Spaghetti con Aglio e Olio with Tomato and Onion Salad

   Coarse salt
1 pound spaghetti
   Crusty bread, to pass at the table
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to your taste
8 to 10 flat anchovy fillets
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 vine-ripe tomatoes or 6 Roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise, lightly seeded, then sliced into thin half-moons
1 small white or yellow onion, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
   Coarse black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes or so.

Place the bread in a low oven to warm and crust it up.

While the pasta cooks, place a large, deep, nonstick heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. When the pan is warm add the 1/3 cup of EVOO, the garlic, red pepper flakes, and anchovies.

While the sauce and pasta work, chop a fistful of the parsley and combine it with the tomatoes and onions in a shallow bowl.

Dress the salad with a liberal drizzle of EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the remaining parsley and set aside.

Drain the spaghetti really well but do not rinse it; rinsing will wash off the starch, and the starch helps the oil stick to the pasta. Pour the hot spaghetti into the skillet. Add the reserved parsley and toss the pasta together with the anchovies, garlic, and oil to coat evenly. Season the completed dish liberally with salt and pepper.

Serve the pasta with the tomato and onion salad and crusty bread alongside.


RR says: "This meal and the next have appeared in other books of mine. I did not invent the dishes - they are classics. My take on these classics are my two favorite meals, ever. I simply could not have you (or me) live through a whole year without having these dishes in there somewhere. Enjoy these oldies-but-oh-so-goodies!"

Her tidbit is this: "If you think you don't like anchovies, you're wrong. The anchovies will melt into the oil and break up completely. Help break them up with a wooden spoon as they cook. Once they melt into oil, the anchovies will no longer taste like fish but like salted, toasted nuts in garlic oil. [Then she takes God's name in vain, which means (when I recently explained it to my 4-year-old) to use the name of God without thinking or meaning what you say.]"

This was a good meal. It's by no means my favorite, but it's not bad. I reduced the amount of red pepper flakes so it wasn't spicy. That's necessary for my children. The salad was good, but next time I might cut the onions back to 1/2 or 1/4 onion. There were just too many onions.

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