Monday, October 15, 2007

Yes, I am a Pastaholic

I am such a pastaholic. I am constantly craving pasta and lots of it. I am, however, unlike other types of addicts who may take their vices in other forms; for example, an alcoholic would probably settle for gin if a preferred vodka wasn’t available. But unlike your garden variety addict, I am not an equal opportunity pasta lover. In fact, I am quite bias when it comes to pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I will settle for penne or rigatoni, but I like pasta in the spaghetti family; i.e. spaghetti, linguine, capellini or fettuccini. As long as you can twirl it and slurp it, I will eat it and love it.

I also, unfortunately, don’t experiment all that much with my pasta. My favorites are a good Bolognese sauce and I just adore linguine and white clam sauce – both of which are on a heavy culinary rotation in my kitchen. Last week, for example, I made linguine and clam sauce – one of the easiest and fastest pasta sauces to make. My recipe deviates slightly depending upon whether my refrigerator is well stocked for clam sauce night.

If I am in the mood for a little extra bite in my sauce, I will add finely chopped celery, but it is not really for flavor, it is more for texture and color. The base of my sauce, however, does not change. It consists of diced shallots and minced garlic sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil, a dab of butter and a generous amount of red pepper flakes. I find that heating my oil with red pepper flakes infuses the entire sauce evenly, which is quite nice if you like a little heat with your littlenecks.

Speaking of those succulent bivalves, as a general principal you should, of course, use fresh littlenecks, but for a mid-week quickie meal, I rely on canned minced clams. The seasoning of the sauce is very important, especially if you are using canned clams. I liberally season my sauce with salt and pepper, fresh basil and fresh parsley. The fresh herbs really add a crisp and clean flavor to the sauce, giving it a bit of a bite if you choose not to incorporate celery. I also add some white wine to the sauce a few minutes before I am ready to serve.

The entire meal can be prepared in the amount of time it takes the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook. It is such a quick and easy dinner, but more importantly, it is one of the fastest ways I know to satisfy my pasta cravings.

Until next time…

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