Recipe of the Day: five-minute aglio olio
five-minute aglio olio
Preparing an entrée from scratch in under ten minutes is a bit of a push for most home cooks. But in the restaurant world that amount of time is considered a luxury. Many dishes you order are “fired” in 1 – 2 minutes in red-hot pans—usually by a line cook who is working multiple pans simultaneously.
In Glutton for Punishment, one of the most difficult challenges I faced was attempting to step into the shoes of these foot soldiers of the kitchen. My first such challenge was attempting to take over the position of lead egg cook in at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City in their breakfast café that serves up a million eggs a year. It was such an exciting, adrenalin-filled episode, that two seasons later we decided to reprise the trial by fire. In my second attempt to keep pace on the line, I trained to be the lead pasta cook at Mia Francesca, an Italian restaurant in Chicago that serves up 600 orders of pasta on a busy night. In both cases, I flamed out at the end, but in the process, I developed a new skill set—and a whole new level of respect for the unsung heroes of the line.
This recipe is my own interpretation of the classic Italian pasta dish. Any self-respecting line cook would knock it out, start to finish, in about 90 seconds. I’m confident that in the peaceful serenity of your own kitchen you can cinch it in five minutes.
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 servings fresh angel hair pasta (or dried, if you have an extra 2 or 3 minutes to spare)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ - 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (depending on your heat tolerance)
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup fresh parsley (regular or Italian), chopped finely
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ½ teaspoon freshly-grated black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and set a sauté pan over medium-high heat (then start the clock if you are taking the challenge).
Add salt to the water, then add pasta. Cook according to directions. Fresh pasta should take about a minute, dried pasta about three.
Add oil to the pan, let it heat up for a few seconds, then add, garlic and chili flakes. Sauté for approximately 30 seconds, or until garlic just begins to turn golden. Remove from heat until pasta is cooked. Drain pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Return pan to heat, and add pasta and reserved pasta water. Toss. Add zest, parsley and black pepper. Toss thoroughly and top with Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.
To transform your aglio olio into an instant Puttanesca, add a few anchovies along with the garlic and chili flakes. After the garlic has just begun to turn golden, add 1 cup of crushed canned tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of drained capers, a palmful of pitted olives and ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, basil or thyme. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the pasta and pasta water.
yield: Serves 2 hungry, impatient diners
Mask of the Day:
Photo and Recipe created by Bob Blumer