This is the time of year when the produce in the garden starts to ripen and I love to make one of my favorite classic spaghetti dishes. The inspiration for this dish comes from the peasant cooking of Puglia and Calabria Italy; the heel and toe of the Italian “boot” respectively.
I call it “Semplice” meaning simple, because there is only a total of 4 ingredients in the dish – not counting the spaghetti itself.
1 pound spaghetti
4-6 fresh long hot Italian peppers
Generous handful of fresh basil
1/2 Fresh bread crumbs
Pecorino cheese for serving
Toast bread crumbs in a few tablespoons olive oil, and set aside on paper towl to drain. It takes only a few minutes to toast them, so don’t burn them.
While you set a pot of water to boil, get some extra virgin olive oil going in a large saute pan. Add 7 or 8 medium to large garlic cloves, finely minced. Clean the peppers, removing as many of the seeds and veins as you like. The more you leave in, the hotter the dish will be. Chop them crosswise into 1/4 inch slices and slowly saute them with the garlic in the olive oil. Add a pinch or two of salt.
When the pasta is almost al dente, drain it into the saute pan and toss to coat. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and add to saute pan otherwise the pasta will be too dry. You can add a bit of extra oil too if you need it.
Chop the basil and toss into the saute pan. Mix in the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
The peasants in southern Italy that make this dish, attribute it’s roots to the fact that they often didn’t have money to buy cheese. The breadcrumbs replace the typical add of the cheese and also give a nod of frugality to the “Cucina Povero” – i.e. never waste anything!
However, the fresh pecorino to pass with serving is great alongside the hot peppers. This dish can be made and served in essentially the time it takes the water to boil and the pasta to cook. Delizioso!
|Spaghetti with hot peppers, breadcrumbs and basil