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Chef's Secrets: Spaghetti

Chef's Secrets: Spaghetti

Mastering the art of spaghetti.

by

According to this year's Bon Appetite, America's favorite cuisine to make at home is Regional Italian. In my home it could be the favorite every day. We even do it on the occasional Shabbat. At first, I didn't trust this recipe and I refused to follow it. I just couldn't imagine how it could be good with so few ingredients, so I added more on my own. It wasn't until I happened to follow the recipe exactly as it was written that I truly enjoyed this amazing dish.

Spaghetti Neapoletana

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil (fresh)
  • salt and pepper
  • 14 oz. Spaghetti

Heat the oil in a pan. Add onion. Fry gently for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain thoroughly and pile into a warmed serving dish. Pour the sauce over the top and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

* * *

Spaghetti a la Livorno

A favorite recipe from Vicki, an old friend.

  • 10-30 garlic cloves sliced not too thin
  • 1 or more HOT chili peppers
  • 4 tablespoons to 1/4 cup or more olive oil
  • 2 800 gram cans of peeled, chopped tomatoes

On a very low heat saute garlic in olive oil. Don't let the garlic brown -- just sauté until the oil becomes imbued with the garlic flavor. Let it take its time. Add the chili peppers about halfway through. Add tomatoes until just heated.

Cook spaghetti, drain, but don't rinse. Save 1/4 cup of liquid. Add hot drained spaghetti to oil mixture. Stir over heat for a few minutes, until it is really hot. Add salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped basil if you have some available. You can add grated cheese. If it gets too dried out while heating, add water from spaghetti as needed.

* * *

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Rosemary

4-6 servings

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 3 1/4 cups 1/3-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • 8 oz. plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 oz. conchiglie (medium pasta shelles)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and rosemary and saute until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add squash, tomatoes an 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Return pasta to same pot.

Add 2 tablespoons oil, squash mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan to pasta; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan.

* * *

Tip: How do restaurants cook spaghetti?

Cook spaghetti in hot boiling water with salt and oil for four minutes. Drain and wash.

Put aside until you are ready to use (make it in the morning for evening use). Boil enough water to cover spaghetti. Pour boiling water onto spaghetti; stir. Let sit five minutes. Drain and serve -- hot, fresh and NOT sticky.

Published: June 1, 2002


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