Tonight I made a simple Italian dish that savors of evenings cooking with my boyfriend in San Diego. Not that I was feeling nostalgic or sad, just a little remembering. As with so many memory triggering dishes, this one has a ton of carbs and is quite generous with the olive oil. I'm talking about pasta all'arrabiata or "angry style pasta", a spicy tomato sauce from Tuscany.
I don't know much about cooking Italian food, but what I"m beginning to understand is that this cuisine is more concerned with ratios and techniques than entirely different constellations of ingredients. Or maybe all cuisines are like that, drawing from the same set of base flavors to make different arrangements.
So this dish starts by opening up the aromatics - garlic and red chili pepper flakes - in olive oil. Did I mention that this dish smells fabulous the whole time you're cooking? It's lovely.
Note the generous pool of oil. This is, apparently, the key to good arrabiata. I am still in the process of being coached away from my oil-stingy ways. Also of note, if you couldn't tell, in this recipe we measure "by eye" and "to taste".
Once the garlic is browned, add in your canned tomatoes. Traditionally you start with whole peeled tomatoes and shred them with your fingers. This gives the sauce nice structure so that the pasta and sauce can't homogenize. However, I accidentally opened a can of diced tomatoes, so we worked with that. Mix the oil and the tomatoes and let simmer until seriously saucy. Be warned, this could take a while.
Once you've reduced your sauce, and your pasta is almost done cooking, your sauce should be thick and lumpy like this (if you started with diced):
When your pasta is done and drained, add your sauce (or a portion of your sauce, depending on how much pasta you're making) to the drained pasta.
Coat the pasta with the sauce, just so there aren't any lonely, unsauced noodles.
And serve with a generous dusting of pecorino romano and parsley*!
*I didn't have any because I made so much chimichurri
Special thanks to Kensy for teaching me how to make this, Mum for the plates I eat from and Grandma and Gramps for the cutlery I eat with!