We have always eaten a lot of pasta in my house. It’s a great way to use up fridge scraps, and is perfect for those nights when we arrive home late from work and can’t manage much more than boiling a pot of water. Our pasta consumption has only gone up while sheltering in place.
Although some nights I do attempt to create a balanced, healthier pasta dinner by cooking more vegetables than pasta, adding a salad or using whole wheat pasta, most of the time, I want something like the recipe below. Pasta with lots of olive oil, extra carbs (hello, toasted breadcrumbs), plenty of Parmesan, and the one-two punch of garlic and anchovies. Red pepper flakes are optional, but, in my opinion, the anchovies are not.
I’m not going to say that you can’t taste them (you can), but the flavor of the anchovies here is not fishy. When combined with the Parmesan cheese, the anchovies form a strong undercurrent of umami that you cannot get from the cheese alone. (There’s chemistry going on here.) If you’re nervous about it, use three instead of my preferred six anchovies in the dish.
The secret to pulling together any simple pasta dish like this one is to use some of the pasta cooking water to make a creamy sauce. Add it to the skillet with the pasta, garlic-anchovy mix, and olive oil, bring to a simmer, and watch the heat transform otherwise disparate ingredients into an emulsified sauce. There’s more science involved here, too, but it’s also fine to just call it magic.
Garlicky Pantry Pasta
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