As you probably all know by now, the Toddster is not a huge fan of pasta. In our twelve years of marriage I have not been able to convince him that is it anything other than yuck. (He has no taste when it comes to this . . . the man hates pasta, but loves tinned spaghetti! It doesn't make sense.) He will suffer through eating it occasionally, but really . . . he's spent the last twelve years vetoing a trip to Italy because . . . he doesn't like Italian food. I haven't yet been able to convince him that they eat a lot more than pasta and pizza in Italy, but I'm working on it.
I took advantage of him being away the other day to feed my pasta loving heart. I saw a really tasty recipe somewhere the other day that called for spaghetti, pine nuts, lemon and garlic . . . which sounded really good, but I didn't have any pine nuts. It looked really delicious though and simple . . . and the more I looked at it the more I wanted pasta . . . so what's a gal to do . . . I took what I did had and created my own simple and tasty pasta dish.
It's nothing complicated. You may not even see it as actually being a recipe per se . . . but it was incredibly delicious, easy and satisfied my hunger for pasta in a most wonderful way. I fell off my diet wagon big time here, because I think I actually kind of ate 1 1/2 helpings of it . . . okay . . . I DID eat 1 1/2 helpings of it, I confess . . . yes, it was that good.
It was quick, quick, quick . . . it took me 8 minutes to boil my pasta and 2 minutes later I had a lovely, bowl of this wonderfully tasty dish sitting in front of me.
I am a great fan of good quality tinned Italian tomatoes. They are soooo good! I don't know if it's the air in Italy, or the sunshine, or the earth . . . but Italian tomatoes are heavenly . . . fresh or tinned, sun dried, etc. They're just the best. I used a good quality Italian tinned tomato for this . . . fresh basil which I grow on my window sill, a really grate (every pun intended) Parmesan type of cheese (I used Grana Padano today, as that's what I had in the fridge), garlic butter (which I made myself), and of course the best dried spaghetti noodles that I can buy.
And here's the truth . . . you don't have to go to Italy or spend a fortune to get good dried pasta. I use a supermarket's best brand, and it's as good as any Italian brand in my opinion. The only way I would splurge and buy an actual Italian brand of pasta would be to get a special shape that I could find otherwise . . . like buggatini. I was actually watching America's Test Kitchen the other day and they were testing out pasta brands and the clear winner was NOT an Italian brand at all . . . so don't be taken in and spend extra money when you don't really need to. I wouldn't buy the saver's brand . . . but I wouldn't pimp for the so-called best brand name types either.
The most important elements of this dish are the cheese, the tomatoes, the basil and the garlic. I infused the butter with the flavours of garlic and lemon, which went a long way towards flavouring this "fresh" sauce. The only herb I used was fresh Basil which I cut in the chiffonade style. (Very easy, just roll up into a cigar and cut into thin slices with a sharp knife. That's chiffonade.)
Anyways, to make a long story short . . . good and simple ingredients . . . put together in a simple way . . . quick to make . . . delicious to eat.
*Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Garlic Butter, Basil and Cheese*
I didn't know what else to call this. Pasta comfort, plain and simple.
4 ounces dry spaghetti (1/4 pound)
50g of finely grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp unsalted butter
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and degermed and bashed
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (from an unwaxed lemon)
a small handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 425g tin of chopped Italian Tomatoes, drained
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place your butter into a microwaveable dish along with the garlic clove. Nuke in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until the butter is melted and you can smell the garlic. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, and set aside.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to your package directions for al dente. Leave the drained tomatoes in the strainer. Once the pasta is done, pour it over the drained tomatoes in the strainer and drain well. (This helps to heat up the tinned tomatoes.) Return the spaghetti and tomatoes to the saucepan. Tip in the garlic butter, the cheese and the basil leaves. (To chiffonade, roll the leaves into a tight cylinder and then slice them crosswise into thin strips.) Toss together to coat the spaghetti. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide into two pasta bowls and serve. I like to pass more parmesan cheese at the table. (You can never have too much parmesan!)