A Lockdown Spaghetti Dish from Pisa
I’m not a professional chef, but I’m a pretty good cook. Let me offer you my take on spaghetti with garlic, oil and chillis (peperoncini), that can be prepared anywhere, with ingredients you have in the house. There’s one small complication, but you can get round that.
Cut a few cloves of garlic into thin slices (for four people I put at least five medium or large sized cloves – we Tuscans are notorious vampire slayers!).
Fry them in a pan with oil on a very low heat together with some of the chillis (choose the amount of chilli to suit your taste. I’m accustomed to Asian food, so I put in a generous helping). In this way, the aromatic part of the garlic releases into the oil, without sizzling. After a few minutes add a few tablespoons of water, and let the garlic soften for a while: it won’t take long.
Then blend everything, and pass it through a chinoise (a fine sieve will be fine). The liquid obtained in this way is very fragrant, but without those bothersome pieces of garlic. Moreover, it is ready to envelop your spaghetti with flavour.
Now, option a) (for experts): return the liquid in the pan, bring it to the boil and add the spaghetti raw, cooking it straight into the pan adding water from time to time (as you would for a risotto). The pasta will release its starch, and absorb all the taste of the sauce…leaving you with incomparably creamy and fragrant pasta. At the end, jump (gently shake to lift) the spaghetti to bring out the incomparable creaminess and fragrance.
Or b): cook the spaghetti as usual in water, then sauté it in the sauce. The result is not the same, but it is still excellent. If you have any, a spoonful of anchovies gives a touch of class to the dish. Barbarians can add parsley, but don’t tell me…