It's extremely rare that I end out cooking an evening meal just for myself. Tonight, as it happens has been one of those nights. It's half term week and my family are off staying with relatives or away for work, and there I was, working away and wondering what to eat. For a house that's usually full of people it's a strange place when it's just me. I cook most evenings for all of us, but tonight I needed something quick and something that would fill the void created by an empty house. The last time this happened to me was three and a half years ago (!), and what did I cook? Aglio, olio e peperoncino.
I don't know of anything simpler that packs as much punch as this delightful dish. Ordinary dried spaghetti, good olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, chilli, butter and parmesan. Intensely aromatic, seriously 'peppery' and immensely satisfying.
I checked out the fridge and the pantry before walking to the the shop to pick up the last bits and pieces. Basil: check, garlic: check, chilli: oh yes, still plenty of my chilli bounty in the freezer - but olive oil, parmesan and spaghetti? No.
|Nice and frosty, straight from the freezer|
This meal takes as long is it takes to boil spaghetti. Like ten minutes in total if you are organised. I do it like this:
Boil 1.5 litres of water in a kettle and transfer to a large pot with a good dash of salt. Add 100g of spaghetti to the boiling water. Roughly chop 4-5 cloves of garlic and as many chillies as you can handle. Finely grate a decent chunk of parmesan cheese (2-3 tablespoons works for me) and roughly break up a handful of basil leaves.
When the spaghetti is cooked (it takes only 8 minutes or so), remove it from the water with tongs and toss it into the hot oil. Put the heat back on gently while you stir the garlic, chilli and oil through the spaghetti. Add a dollop of butter, half the parmesan and half the basil, give it a good toss and plate it up. Once on the plate add the rest of the basil and parmesan, crack open a super chilled bottle of white wine and go for it. You won't regret it. I promise.