Sure, sometimes I like to spend hours in the kitchen over a perfectly simmered Indian stew, or a complex build of lasagna, but then there are also those days when all you want is to have a plate of delicious food appear in front of you immediately. This is a recipe for that day.
With Pasta as gorgeous as this spinach and Chive fettuccini, simplicity is best to let the flavor of the pasta shine. Some pasta water, a bit of red chilli and nutty cheese is all you need.
1 lb spinach and chive fettuccini
2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
2 tbsps chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp crushed red chilli pepper (adjust quantity to suit your heat level, use a pinch to a couple of tsp as you wish)
1 tbsp dried basil
3 tbsp butter
2 cups of your favorite nutty cheese. You want to use a dry nutty variety. I found a mix of Asiago, Parmesan and Romano.
1/2 tsp salt (just for finishing, since both the pasta water and the cheese are already salty)
More cheese for garnish
Serves 6 to 8
The key to this recipe is timing the cooking of the pasta so you can drop the pasta fresh from the cooking water into the sauce along with some of the cooking liquids. This gives the sauce a creamy and velvety texture without any addition of cream.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, liberally salt the water. (about 2 tbsp). Once the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the pasta and stir well. As the pasta starts softening, make sure you stir gently and keep it moving so they don’t clump together.
At the 5 min mark of pasta boiling, we’ll start putting together the sauce. Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet. As the butter begins melting, add garlic, red chillies, salt and basil. Saute for a minute or two. Just as soon the garlic starts turning golden turn off the heat.
Check the pasta, it should be cooked 2 minutes less than package directions. My pasta had a 8-9 minute cook time, and I shut off the heat at around 6 minutes.
Pour 3-4 large ladlefuls of boiling pasta water (about 2 cups) into the garlic mixture. Turn the skillet back on to medium heat. Add the cheese and stir until cheese melts, and the sauce starts coming together.
Use tongs and pull the pasta out of the cooking water directly on to the skillet with the sauce. Toss well together and let the pasta and sauce simmer together for two to three minutes over medium heat, the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce during this time.
Turn off heat, and serve immediately with more shaved cheese on top!