This is another recipe shared through my ex-husband, from an Italian immigrant he met a few years ago. I'm told that the man's English was rather poor, but his eyes and his smile shone as he described this dish in the foreign (to him) language, because his love for it is so pure and abundant.
Now, first let me translate the Italian name of the dish for you: Pasta con Aglio e Olio [PAHS-tuh kohn AHL-yo eh OHL-yo] means "Pasta with Garlic and Oil." Oh, how woefully inadequate that title is, even in the more beautiful language!
Because the sauce for the pasta contains not just garlic and oil, but also anchovies.
Yup, you read that right -- anchovies. Those little fuzzy, smelly fishies that can guarantee you won't have to share your pizza with anyone if you plop some of 'em on top.
And yet, once they've melted into the garlic oil -- and they will essentially melt, leaving only miniscule traces of their existence -- those anchovies impart a flavor so full of depth, with a hint of smokiness and a touch of saltiness that isn't readily identifiable as "salty," that you will simply want to inhale platesful of this dish.
You could add peas or carrots or spinach or tomatoes or any other vegetable to this meal to brighten it up and to add nutrition. But sometimes simplicity is precisely what you need.
Pasta con Aglio e Olio (Pasta with Garlic and Oil)
pasta of your choice, for 4 servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets in oil, drained of most of the oil
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
parmesan, for serving
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic, and cook just until the garlic starts to turn lightly brown. Add the anchovies.
Cook, pressing down on the anchovies with a spoon, for 5 minutes or so, stirring to break up the anchovies.
Add the broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until sauce is dark brown and reduced by half.
Stir in butter, then pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat pasta with the sauce.
Serve with parmesan, and mangia bene! [MAHN-juh BEH-neh] = eat well!