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Okay, enough of this business talk. Let’s move on to more exciting things, like pasta.
If I were to have a soul mate in the form of a country – if that were at all possible – I think it would be Italy. In all fairness, I’ve never been, so I can’t be completely sure. There are a lot of the places in the world that I’m sure I would fall in love with, but I think Italy and I might be meant for each other.
Yes, the countrysides are beautiful, the history is vibrant, and the art and museums are infamous. But what makes me so enamoured with Italy is, simply, the food.
There are so many of my favourite foods that originated in Italy: carbs and sweets and simple ingredients that yield amazing results. Gelato. Tiramisu. Pizza. Risotto. Pasta.
I adore simple pasta.
It’s a very North American thing to have a heavily sauced pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good homemade sauce loaded with crumbled sausage, lots of veggies, seasoning, tomato sauce. There’s a time and a place for such a hearty pasta, but in Italy, pasta is simple. Instead of loading the sauce with a mile-long list of ingredients, it’s common to simply toss them in oil and call it a dish. Additions can be made with seasoning or vegetables, but a light sauce with just a few ingredients really lets the flavour and texture of the noodles shine. Like a simple carbonara or spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil), simple flavours and al dente noodles are all you need.
To put it simply, Italians know that less is more.
The noodles are tossed simply with olive oil, leftover pasta water, a homemade olive tapenade, then topped with some fresh Parmesan and sliced prosciutto. You could even skip the meat, as the tapenade holds all the flavour!
Some of my pasta tips:
- Don’t overcook your noodles! Al dente noodles are slightly chewy, not soft and mushy.
- Salt your water! It may seem like overkill to add a full teaspoon of salt to your pot of water (it does seem like a lot!) but the noodles don’t absorb all of that salt when cooking. It amps up the flavour and actually “roughens” the texture of the noodles, which will help prevent the noodles from becoming too slimy.
- Don’t add olive oil to your boiling water. It might seem like a bit of oil will help keep the noodles from clumping, but oil and water don’t mix. The oil will simply float on top of the water, so all you end up doing is wasting the oil. To really prevent the noodles from clumping, stir the noodles often during the first minute or two of cooking, and toss with olive oil and/or pasta water once drained.
- Place a wooden spoon over the top of the pot to prevent the water from boiling over. This seems weird, but it works!
- Reserve some of the pasta water! Once al dente, drain the noodles but keep some of the water aside. When you add the tapenade, pour in some of the water to help loosen the noodles and create a silky sauce.
- Do NOT rinse your pasta. Please, don’t do this. Rinsing the noodles once cooked washes away all that starchy flavour! If the noodles clump together, just stir in a bit of olive oil or reserved pasta water.
- Use good quality, extra virgin olive oil! A good, extra virgin olive oil is your secret weapon. Real extra virgin olive oil is actually healthy and 100% natural. A lot of lower quality olive oils have been processed and/or diluted.
Next stop, Italy! Well, maybe not quite yet. For now, I’ll enjoy my pasta ♥
|Olive Tapenade Linguini with Prosciutto|| |
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- Fresh black pepper, to taste
- 450g linguini
- Olive oil
- 150g sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces
- Fresh Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, reserving some of the pasta water; set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, in a food processor, combine the garlic, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, chili flakes, and pepper. Pulse until mixture has broken down. Adjust to taste.
- Toss pasta with tapenade and a bit of olive oil and reserved pasta water, breaking up the noodles and creating a thin, light sauce.
- Serve topped with prosciutto, Parmesan, and fresh parsley.