Italian food is known for its simplicity and use of great ingredients and this recipe is no different. The recipe is great but the way we learned it is pretty amusing too. In October of last year, the wife and I went to Tuscany for a week. We had a wonderful time, thanks in no small part to our wonderful hosts – Sonny and Alba, whose accomodations we stayed at (link here). As it turns out, Sonny is originally from Pakistan/India and misses the food. So one day, in exchange for letting us use the washing machine in the largest suite they have, I offered to make Baigan Bharta (recipe here) for Sonny.
The clothes were in the washer and Sonny had been dispatched to procure the necessary produce. Everything seemed to be on track. Alas, not everything was as rosy as the sunset that day. Sonny came back with a basket full of eggplants but no tomatoes, onions or garlic! Without those key ingredients, Baigan Bharta was not going to happen. At this late hour, all seemed lost to our inebriated group(hence nobody except for Sonny was in a fit state to drive and he didn’t want to). Our dejected group had resigned itself to a platter of cheese, fruit and bread. But all was not lost. Sonny came riding to the rescue, figuratively, on a box of spaghetti. Using just pasta, oil, garlic, parsley and cheese, he created something so lip-smackingly good that there was much dancing and laughing by the fire that night.
Since we have been back, this has become quite a staple in our household. The kids love it. We made a small change to the recipe – using chili flakes, the wife added a bit of kick to the recipe.
Spaghetti (Whole wheat or Semolina) – as much as you want
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – use good quality stuff, this recipe is simple and you need good stuff
Garlic Cloves – peeled, use 5-6 when cooking for 4 people
Chili Flakes – to taste
Italian Parsley – minced, use about a couple of Tbsp when cooking for 4
Parmesan Cheese – Grated (to top)
1. Cook Spaghetti al dente according to instructions and drain. Save a little of the water.
2. In a large skillet pour a generous pour of Olive Oil (the bottom should be completely covered and then some)
3. Heat the oil to low medium and add the garlic cloves. Let the cloves cook for a long time (at least 20 minutes). If they are starting to brown, reduce the heat.
4. Add chili flakes (start with half a tsp and then adjust according to taste once you have made the recipe a couple of times) and cook for another 5 mins.
5. Add the cooked spaghetti, heat thoroughly.
6. Toss in parsley. Add salt to taste.
7. Serve immediately, topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.