Rome
9/26/2020

What I cook when I don't want to cook

Rome
9/26/2020

The recipe for this pasta is simple: there is no recipe. There is only a handful of non-negotiable ingredients: a clove or two of garlic, a dried peperoncino, olive oil, anchovies (the good ones; this is not the place to skimp on quality), and – obviously – the pasta itself. The garlic gets slightly crushed (not chopped) with the side of a knife, the peperoncino crumbled, and they both go into a pan with a generous pool of olive oil. The oil is heated, gently, just to the point where bubbles form around the edges of the garlic cloves and the seeds from the peperoncino just barely start to dance. Then the heat is cut, the garlic is discarded, and the anchovies – I used six filets if I’m cooking for two – go in and get stirred around until they dissolve.

You can stop here if you want. I often do – this is a perfectly delicious lazy pasta sauce that comes together in no time at all, doesn’t require chopping and simmering and extra dirty dishes, and really doesn’t need any improvement. Big flavour, low effort.

Or you can wander over to the fridge and pull out that half red onion that needs to be used up, a generous handful of cherry tomatoes, and a sprig of parsley. The onion gets sliced, the tomatoes halved, and they both get tossed into the pan where they simmer – over low heat, to not burn the anchovies – until the onions have gone all soft and the tomatoes have relaxed into something that’s starting to look a little saucy. Pull the pasta (linguine is a good choice) out of the water a minute or two before it’s done and drop it into the pan where it’ll finish cooking along with the sauce and some of the pasta water, as needed.

Plate, top generously with roughly chopped parsley, devour.

It’s so much more than the sum of its parts, and is so satisfyingly quick to make that you can prep the ingredients, cook the sauce and clean up the kitchen in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

The recipe for this pasta is simple: there is no recipe. There is only a handful of non-negotiable ingredients: a clove or two of garlic, a dried peperoncino, olive oil, anchovies (the good ones; this is not the place to skimp on quality), and – obviously – the pasta itself. The garlic gets slightly crushed (not chopped) with the side of a knife, the peperoncino crumbled, and they both go into a pan with a generous pool of olive oil. The oil is heated, gently, just to the point where bubbles form around the edges of the garlic cloves and the seeds from the peperoncino just barely start to dance. Then the heat is cut, the garlic is discarded, and the anchovies – I used six filets if I’m cooking for two – go in and get stirred around until they dissolve.

You can stop here if you want. I often do – this is a perfectly delicious lazy pasta sauce that comes together in no time at all, doesn’t require chopping and simmering and extra dirty dishes, and really doesn’t need any improvement. Big flavour, low effort.

Or you can wander over to the fridge and pull out that half red onion that needs to be used up, a generous handful of cherry tomatoes, and a sprig of parsley. The onion gets sliced, the tomatoes halved, and they both get tossed into the pan where they simmer – over low heat, to not burn the anchovies – until the onions have gone all soft and the tomatoes have relaxed into something that’s starting to look a little saucy. Pull the pasta (linguine is a good choice) out of the water a minute or two before it’s done and drop it into the pan where it’ll finish cooking along with the sauce and some of the pasta water, as needed.

Plate, top generously with roughly chopped parsley, devour.

It’s so much more than the sum of its parts, and is so satisfyingly quick to make that you can prep the ingredients, cook the sauce and clean up the kitchen in the time it takes to boil the pasta.