Easy Italian Dishes; Spaghetti with Chili Peppers Garlic and Pecorino
Ingredients for Simple Calabrese Spaghetti Recipe
Spaghetti with Chili Peppers Garlic and Pecorino
Quick Simple Dinners - From Calabria
The principal secret to this simple Calabrese spaghetti dish is that the spaghetti is drained five minutes before the end of its cook time, then as the video demonstrates, it's mixed in a wide pan in which extra virgin olive oil is frying cloves of garlic and slices of fresh red chili pepper - until the spaghetti is cooked aldente - at which time the freshly grated Calabrian sheep's cheese is added. The amalgamated flavors make for a dense pasta sauce where each ingredient competes and immediately relinquishes its power to the other in intense, creamy harmony.
The other secrets are these:
- The spaghetti should be a big spaghetti size, at least number 5
- The chili peppers are best if they are fresh (not dried)
- The garlic is best fresh
- The Pecorino cheese is best grated from a fresh piece of cheese
- The olive oil has to be extra virgin olive oil
- It's got to be eaten straight away while piping hot from the pan
If your garlic isn't fresh, that's fine too, but best to take the little shoot out in the middle. If your chili peppers are dried, you'll need less chili. If your Pecorino cheese is supermarket bought that is fine too, as long as the cheese is still fresh smelling. (Check the sell-by date and best not use it if its been opened for days).
This is a humble, simple meal so there's no need to make too much fuss about the ingredients.
This recipe comes from Calabria, today, from Nino Papasergio's Bed and Breakfast guest house restaurant Sciná 015 where the foods are traditional and based entirely on local fresh ingredients which are still cooked the way they have been cooked for hundreds of years.
Did you know?
Calabria is a relatively poor region in South Italy whose hillsides of roaming sheep produce the most tasty Pecorino ('cheese of sheep') and Caciocavallo cheese.
Pan of Spaghetti
Did you know?
The word for chili pepper in Italy is peperoncino which is pronounced like this:
pepper on cheeno
Cook Time from Start to Finish
- 17.63 ounces (500 grams) spaghetti
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 whole chili, fresh
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- half cup (to taste, so more if you like) pecorino, fresh and grated
- 2/3 heaped teaspoons rock salt, (for spaghetti water)
Chili and Garlic Cooking in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pots and Pans for Making Spaghetti
A chef's classic stainless steel open skillet for safe and comfortable handling
- Put the pasta water onto boil. Salt it. Cover to make it boil faster!
- Peel and cut the garlic into two.
- Slice the fresh chili peppers.
- Grate the cheese.
- When the water boils, add the packet of spaghetti. (Stir to separate the strands).
- TIMING: Read how many minutes the spaghetti takes to cook (this will be from when it starts to boil).
- IMPORTANT. Make a note to drain the spaghetti 2/3rds in to cooking time. (So for example, if the spaghetti takes 8 minutes, you'll be draining it at about 5 mins from boiling. If the spaghetti takes 12 minutes, you'll be draining at about 8 mins).
- In a separate pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil.
- Add the garlic and the chili peppers and fry a few minutes on a medium heat - it's important you don't brown the garlic! (Keep the garlic white.)
- When the spaghetti is 2/3 cooked - and just before straining, take out abut 1 pint of the pasta water and hold to one side.
- Strain the spaghetti.
- Add it to the pan with the frying garlic and chili peppers and begin mixing and stirring all together.
- Add approximately one cup of the pasta water you kept to one side and stir more.
- Alternately add a little of the Pecorino (see the video) and gradually add more water - continuing to mix and stir the pasta. Repeat a few times.
- When the spaghetti is cooked aldente, stop adding water.
- Turn off the heat and add a little more of the Pecorino cheese and amalgamate together - as the video demonstrates.
- Serve and eat straight away while it is still hot from the pan.
Spaghetti with Garlic Chili Peppers and Pecorino Cheese
Did you know?
The Italian word mantecare or matecato means 'to mix and stir and amalgamate' as the video shows.
When you make this easy Italian dish you need to manticare well! It is the secret of this recipe.
Classic, white and simple pasta bowls
How Italians Make Spaghetti Recipes
Making a plate of pasta in Italy is not just about plonking a sauce over some pasta.
The sauce and the pasta are made to go with each other, to be mixed and combined (mantecato) until the pasta is well coated with the sauce in a way which compliments the type of pasta (noodle, short pasta, mini pasta shapes) and the type of sauce which is best for it. Spaghetti is never overcooked.
This dish is probably going to be very simple the second time you try it out; once you've experienced mixing (mantecare) semi-cooked spaghetti with the ingredients of this tasty, creamy, spicy, cheesy sauce until both the spaghetti and the sauce are properly married together in pasta harmony! That doesn't mean it won't be amazing the first time though.
Here are some helpful suggestions for confidence for when you try this recipe for this easy Italian dish of spaghetti with chili peppers garlic and Pecorinio - that very first time:
- Add the water you held back very gradually to the mixing spaghetti (with chilli and garlic in the pan).
- Keep the heat under the pan with the garlic, chili peppers and extra virgin olive oil on medium
- In order not to have gummy pasta in the pan, don't overdo mixing in the cheese before you turn the heat off. You can add it at the last moment.
- You'll be mixing and amalgamating (mantecare) until the time is up on the spaghetti packet, so get ready to be mixing for those few minutes and don't stop till the minutes are up and the spaghetti is cooked aldente.
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© 2012 Penelope Hart