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Spaghetti ala Fridge

20-Feb-2011

 

Spaghetti ala Fridge

 

I don’t know about you but I find that my cooking comes in ebbs and flows. I’ll find myself making the same thing over and over because I love it so much. Then one day I won’t remember the last time I made that dish – and if I do remember it could have been months or sometimes even years before. That’s the case with this recipe, which is not even really a recipe but more of a concept than anything.

A couple of weeks ago when I was visiting M in Los Angeles we decided to have a quiet evening at home on Saturday night. I’d noticed a partial package of spaghetti on her counter. While we were out and about I suggested we pick up just a few things to turn the spaghetti into a simple meal. We were at the Farmers’ Market at The Grove so you’d think this would have been the perfect place to round out our ingredients.  However, this farmers’ market is more historical than actual and is mostly a covey of little restaurants and shops.  We were able to grab a few items from Monsieur Marcel and then gleaned through the few actual fruit and vegetable stands for a couple more items.  Although the resulting dinner was decent it wasn’t great – partially due to my lack of recent practice and partially due to the less than satisfying shopping experience. So I’d been thinking about that dinner ever since.

Earlier this week an unexpected night home was the perfect opportunity to try again.  And this time I’d be working from my own refrigerator and pantry which always holds little bits of treasure.  The resulting dish was much more satisfying and there was enough for two dinners this week, which was a nice bonus.  I’ll give you a rough recipe but the best way to make this meal is to let the things you have on hand frame what you put together.  Have fun!

Spaghetti ala Fridge

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, or any pasta
  • 1/4 cup cubed pancetta
  • 2 medium shallots or 1/2 small onion thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 6 fresh sage leaves thinly sliced, or any herb of your choice, 1 – 2 Tbsp
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for grating

Place a large pot of water for your pasta on high heat and bring it to a boil.

In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 2 Tbsp of butter until the butter is melted and is starting to sizzle.  If your pasta water is boiling add salt to it and then the pasta.  If not yet boiling, do this step as soon as it comes to a boil. Once you’ve added the pasta to the water reduce the heat, stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking.  Cook for about 8 minutes or 1 or 2 minutes less than whatever the package directions indicate.  You want the pasta to be a little firm, not quite completely cooked.

Add the pancetta to the skillet and cook until golden and slightly crispy.  Add the shallots or onions to the skillet and cook until they are soft, maybe 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, anchovy and sage to the skillet.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, until the anchovies have melted into the butter and oil. 

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water.  Add the pasta to the skillet and stir to mix everything together.  Add the spinach and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, adding more as needed.  You don’t want the dish to be watery but it should be very moist. 

The spinach will take 2 to 3 minutes to wilt.  Once wilted, remove the pan from the heat and plate the spaghetti.  Top with freshly grated parmesan and garnish with a little of the herb, if desired.

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2 Comments
  1. 20-Feb-2011 10:24 am

    Wow. That’s almost a healthier version of carbonara. Anchovies and spinach and sage instead of egg. God, that sounds good! I might have to make that this week. ;-)

  2. 20-Feb-2011 10:31 am

    You are a speed demon on the comments! ;-) It’s the perfect meal for this cold weather – add a nice glass of red wine and you’re all set.

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