A spaghetti recipe
Is it my imagination or do different shapes of pasta taste different?
Although pasta lends itself to fancy sauces and other extras, good quality well-prepared Italian spaghetti tastes delicious with hardly anything added. We're interested in the pasta, not the sauce. So here's a spaghetti recipe with basic ingredients and it does taste delicious. The aftertaste is delicious too, so this spaghetti is best enjoyed with nothing to follow.
- Good quality spaghetti. I like Garofalo Spaghetti 9 made by Pastificio Lucio Garofalo (currently available from Tesco in the UK).
- Water, olive oil, butter, salt.
- Tomato purée. Tesco own-brand double concentrated in a tube is fine.
- Mature cheddar cheese, grated. No other cheese will do.
Cooking the spaghetti
Snap the spaghetti into thirds, put it in a pan with a good amount of salt, then boil it in water for one or two minutes less than instructed on the manufacturer's packaging. When boiled, pour it into a sieve and wash it under the cold tap. Squeeze about half the tube of tomato purée into a cup and dilute it with water, stirring with a spoon until it's a consistent runny liquid. Pour the spaghetti back into the pan together with the diluted tomato purée, a generous splash of olive oil, and a big blob of butter.
Turn on the heat again and continually stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, adding a little more water so that the bottom of the pan is quite wet. Now cook the spaghetti for a further three or four minutes until the bottom of the pan is dry and the strands of pasta have turned a consistent reddy colour. Continual stirring is vital to fully spread the tomato paste and to prevent the spaghetti from sticking to the pan.
When done, pour the spaghetti into an airtight container and put in the fridge overnight.
The following day
Re-heat the spaghetti in a pan. Evaporation will have dehydrated the pasta a little, so add enough water and a little olive oil to make the mixture wet again. In the final phase of cooking, the water content and continual manipulation of the pasta with a wooden spoon as it starts to hiss in the pan are crucial. It should never be allowed to become sticky (with too much water) or to burn (with too little water or stirring). It must be constantly on the move. After a few minutes, when the bottom of the pan is more or less dry, with a thin coating of browny-red tomato burnt onto it, the spaghetti is done.
Serving and eating the spaghetti
Allow the spaghetti to cool for a couple of minutes, then serve it in smallish pasta bowls to be eaten with just a fork. In small side bowls (one per person), provide the grated mature cheddar cheese. The cheese is added in small amounts as the spaghetti is eaten. The trick is not to allow the cheese enough time to melt on the pasta but to continually add it by hand in small sprinkles as you eat, so it's just starting to melt as the food goes into the mouth.
I've eaten a lot of spaghetti in many restaurants over many years, and it never tastes better than when done this way. Of course it helps if you like cheddar cheese.