This recipe has many, many variations but the basic idea is always the same: heaps of fiery chilies, bright greenery, enough garlic to offend anyone within close range, and some sort of satisfying umami element to bring it all together. You could go ahead and use any type of pasta you prefer, but there’s something very satisfying about eating a big bowl of perfectly toothsome al dente spaghetti that I find essential to this loosely crafted recipe. If I’m using sub-par garlic, which tends to be often, I use between 5-7 cloves to really drive the point home. If you’re lucky to have wonderfully pungent cloves then feel free to scale back (or not). I have fresh basil and parsley kicking around more often than other greenery, but I’ve also had immense luck with arugula, dill, and even baby spinach. What you’re looking for is a big happy juxtaposition of elements, the greens need to be capable of standing up for themselves and shining through layers of other robust flavours. The cheese is the umami hit that’s so essential when bringing all these flavours together, I tend to have a big chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano hanging out in the fridge so I use it as my default ingredient but anything aged and flavourful will work wonderfully (may I humbly suggest Pecorino Romano, aged Manchego, Piave Vecchio, Asiago, Crotenese, or even a really aged goat’s milk gouda).
fiery spaghetti with plenty of garlic, fresh herbs, and parmesan:
Enough spaghetti for 1-2 people
5-7 cloves of garlic, finely minced (if you have super strong garlic use less, or not!)
A big handful of flavourful greens and fresh herbs (parsley and basil are my personal favourite)
Copious amounts of freshly cracked pepper
Dried chili flakes
Parmesan cheese, grated (or other aged cheese)
Kosher salt to taste
- Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, before draining reserve about half of a cup of the pasta water.
- In the same pot that the pasta was cooked in heat up the olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté the minced garlic until fragrant and then add the fresh greens and dried chili peppers.
- Toss the spaghetti and pasta water with the garlic, dried chili peppers, and greens. Take off the heat and add the freshly cracked pepper, parmesan cheese, and kosher salt to taste.
- Serve in large bowls with extra cheese and greens sprinkled on top. Eat large amounts while still piping hot, relax and reflect on how happy and nourished you feel.
I have to admit, there’s something about The War on Drugs that reminds me of early childhood, being in the car with my dad while he listened to Dire Straits or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. As with so many things in my life, nostalgia takes the wheel once again and steers my taste. I love this album, it’s just meant for sunny Sunday afternoons and lying around on the couch, waiting to gently fall asleep in the pools of a softly filtered sunbeam.
The War on Drugs – Comin’ Through