Friday, December 2, 2016
James Called Me "Beautiful Spaghetti Genius"
This might be my new favorite dinner.
Somehow tonight I just didn't want to work too hard. I didn't want to wash too many dishes. I didn't want to stand at the stove.
But we were in the mood for spaghetti.
Now when I was young and impressionable I lived in Italy for a little while. That sunny year or two left me with the melodic, poetic Italian language and the vague feeling that no day is truly complete without strong coffee and pasta. I quickly adapted to a daily pasta "primo" (sometimes two) and never got the least bit bored.
Here in the states (a couple of decades later), dinners are one plate, spaghetti is the only course, and reasonable eating dictates that carbs are limited and vegetables take center stage. So, spaghetti isn't every day -- it's a special day.
I started out to make lemon chicken pasta -- kind of a scallopini on spaghetti -- but the panko bread crumbs called my name and I quickly butterflied the chicken breasts, coated them in seasoned, beaten egg, rolled them in panko and pan fried them in olive oil until crunchy golden brown. For the spaghetti I still wanted simple, but with hearty, assertive flavor. No fade into the background filler but a garlicky duet with the crispy chicken.
When the chicken was browned and tucked into a 200º oven to wait for the pasta, I cleaned out the skillet and poured in about 1/2 cup of olive oil and 8 chopped cloves of garlic and half a small lemon very thinly sliced. The garlic and lemon simmered on medium low heat for about a minute -- maybe 2 -- you don't want the garlic to brown just flavor the oil. Then I added in 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, 2 TB of capers, 8 chopped anchovy filets, a pinch of salt and a good quantity of black pepper and let the oil cook for just another 30 seconds or so.
When the pasta (17 oz package) was cooked and drained (with a bit of the pasta cooking water reserved) I returned the spaghetti to the pot along with the oil mixture, the juice of half a small lemon, about 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, a splash of pasta cooking water and a chunk (maybe 1 1/2 TB) of butter.
Everything got a good stir, until the butter melted and the noodles were fully coated with sauce.
This might be my new favorite sauce. Easily pulled together with pantry ingredients. Super fast -- the whole thing can be whipped up while the pasta water boils, and crazy delicious.
The only way it could have been better -- if I say so myself -- was if we'd had a tiny bit of parmesan in the house. Yes, so sad -- we are trying to cut down on cheese too. Sigh. I hate being an adult. But we love spaghetti.