By: Mary-Alice Farina
Photo courtesy of Care2.com
Quite simply put, this is the dinner I make when there's nothing in the house. I learned it from my Italian-American dad who, when newly single, had never cooked a day in his life and had to start with the basics. This basic stuck around and is still a family favorite. This meal is not for vampires - it's a garlic-lover's delight! You might want to avoid making it on a night that will involve close talking or smooching, but it is otherwise a great, quick meal for every day.
The absolute bare minimum is this:
- 1 pound dried pasta (farfale, spaghetti, linguine, or your favorite pasta)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 head of chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tsp parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
To this basic framework, I often add 1 or more of the following:
- 2 sprigs chopped fresh basil
- 1 16 oz can of kidney beans
- 1 minced white or red onion
- 1 can of albacore chunk white tuna in water
- roughly 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- roughly 2 cups steamed broccoli rabe
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup fresh arugula leaves for topping
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente (usually 10-12 minutes). Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until garlic is lightly browned. If adding the vegetables, simply sauté them until soft in the oil and garlic mixture. Remove from heat. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and place in a bowl for tossing and serving. Add olive oil mixture and salt, toss. Add the reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Sprinkle with parmesan and pepper. Serve immediately.
And as my Italian grandparents used to say: "Mangia mangia, the pasta waits for nobody!"