Friday, 6 September 2013

Less Is More

Linguine, Cacio, Pepe, Zucchine & Fagioli
Linguini, Pecorino Cheese, Pepper, Zucchini & Beans

Sometimes I think people try too hard. And they do too much. And they add too much. Especially when it comes to food. Take the classic dish of "spaghetti cacio e pepe"- so flavorful and delicious and yet it only has 3 ingredients- pasta, pecorino cheese and pepper! The whole trick is to not drain the spaghetti too well in the first place, then to grate it with cheese, toss it, add plenty of pepper, add a little more of the water it boiled in, a little more cheese... and to repeat this until the cheese melts and clings to the spaghetti in a smooth, creamy coat... in principle really simple- and when it is done well, it tastes divine!

I love the fact that there is no butter, no oil and no cream involved- it is all about technique and that is one of the most important ingredients in any recipe in my book! Obviously, had I simply prepared "cacio e pepe" this evening, you would have already finished reading all about it by now. So I ever-so-slightly elaborated upon it and made this equally simple little dish here... 

It was Friday evening and so, being the end of the week, I didn't have that much left in the fridge, but I did have a couple of left overs to be used... the usual dilemma! One small zucchini and the last 9-10 string beans to be precise! Alone, they wouldn't have made much of a meal- haha! And alone, the pasta would have been delicious in itself, but this little extra seemed like a good way to elevate the already delicious "cacio e pepe" to even higher heights! And to think- it only took 15 minutes to make too!

So here we go! Pop you saucepan on the stove, get the water boiling, salt it well, add the pasta and grab your grater! On the coarse side, grate the zucchini and set it to one side- the fine side is for the pecorino cheese- or I suppose any other cheese you may prefer- but pecorino is the classic choice. set these to one side and you are almost finished with your prep work... good gracious! I think there is time to enjoy a drink in the meantime!

The beans I lined up and then cut finely on a diagonal- which looks prettier and also results in a larger open surface which will help them cook more quickly. Take another sip of your drink (gin and tonic is good ;-) ) and then take a peek at that pasta- has it been in for 8 minutes yet? Good! It is time to scoop it out using a pasta spoon/fork thingamajig and transferring it to a frying pan with the beans and zucchini. And now the fun begins!

Toss the pasta through to mix thoroughly and add a little of the pasta water- keep the heat on a medium-high and grind well with pepper. Toss, grate with cheese, toss again and grate with nutmeg. You think it's lacking a little something? Add more cheese, add more pepper, add more water and toss together- seriously! Stick to the basic ingredients and work on getting the balance right... it isn't quite as easy as it may sound- but it isn't rocket science either!

After 4-5 minutes of tossing, grating, tweaking and tasting, the pasta should be smooth, creamy and delicious, the vegetables perfect and the cheese smooth and delicious... and you should be very proud, pretty hungry... and ready to dig in! So do so- and enjoy!

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