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Awake at the Whisk: Fast & Fancy Spaghetti

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Fast & Fancy Spaghetti

Don’t you just love restaurant spaghetti?—the way the thick, rich sauce clings tightly to each noodle, covering it in a moist, flavor-packed sauce. And even though the dish appears to be just red, as you eat, you notice the deep yellow hues.

I used to eat restaurant spaghetti and wonder at the mystery of it all. My own sauces would be thick and rich, but I could never get that noodle-cling I longed for. And even if I added olive oil to the sauce, it never had that same golden color.

Until now…

I have finally acquired the knack for fancy spaghetti worthy of company. Best of all? It’s easy! Even better? It tastes great!—rich, lively, warming, and satisfying.

Fast & Fancy Spaghetti

1 bulb of garlic, each clove minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided—use the best quality you can find; the taste makes a huge difference
3 6-oz cans organic tomato paste
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 16-oz package organic whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 15-oz can organic tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves chopped
Parmesan cheese freshly grated for garnish

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat while you chop the garlic. Add ¼ cup olive oil and all the garlic to the hot pan and allow it to sauté for about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, open the cans of tomato paste and add them to the pan with the garlic and oil. Stir.

Add spices and remaining olive oil and stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium-low.

Allow these to cook in the pan while you prepare the spaghetti noodles according to the directions on the package. When you add the noodles to the boiling water, add the tomato sauce to your sauté pan with the paste, spices, and oil. Stir to combine and allow it to continue to simmer.

When the noodles are drained, add them to the sauté pan with the spaghetti sauce. Stir until the noodles are completely coated with the sauce. Add more olive oil if desired. Heap mounds of the fresh, hot pasta onto serving plates and top with a sprinkle of the fresh basil, oregano, and parmesan.

Tips: And whatever you do, do NOT be afraid of the garlic in this recipe. I promise that the flavor will mellow as it’s cooking, and once you add a whole package of noodles, the flavor blends into the background like you don’t know it’s there. Also, you will note that I do not add any salt to the sauce. The canned tomato products typically contain enough salt by themselves, so you don’t need any more.

Serving Size: This is enough spaghetti to feed me and my husband for several nights—and he eats gigantic portions! It will definitely serve a crowd of 6-8.

Leftover Suggestion: If you’re reheating the leftovers, the noodles will surely have absorbed much of the moisture from the sauce. You’ll want to add a little more moisture by adding a few large spoonfuls of canned tomato sauce and a drizzle of olive oil to the pan. I sometimes add a spoonful of liquid from a jar of olives, and then garnish the pasta with chopped olives for a new twist on the leftovers.

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