Sunday, December 28, 2014

Need A Quick Dinner? Pasta Arrabiata Fills the Bill

Pasta seems to be the first thing I think of when we need a quick and hearty dinner, whether it's bacon carbonara or sausage and garlic or a quick toss with a sauté of whatever's lingering in the vegetable bin. After all, boiling a pot of water takes no time at all, and a sauce can be made in the time it takes the pasta to cook.

A few weeks ago I got a big bag of dried Aci Sivri peppers (left) from Ayers Creek Farm at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market. It's a cayenne-like, long red pepper that originated in Turkey that gives a moderate kick when ground fresh. I'd been wanting to make an arrabiata sauce with them and some of the tomatoes I'd roasted and stashed in the freezer last summer, so one night when we needed something fast—okay, okay, I'd been sucked into the vortex of the internet and looked up to see it was frighteningly close to dinnertime—I decided it was the perfect time to give it a whirl.

Pasta Arrabiata

As mentioned above, I used the fabulous tomatoes I'd roasted and frozen the summer before, but while this recipe would work with any canned tomatoes, since there are so few ingredients, the tomatoes play a key role in the flavor of the final dish and it'd be worth using the best quality you can get. The amount of pepper will vary depending on the type of pepper used. Start with a little and add it to the sauce gradually until it suits you.

1 lb. dried pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 c. roasted, puréed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. freshly ground dried hot red pepper (or to taste)
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water heats, place the oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and sauté briefly to warm it (watch that it doesn't brown), then add the tomatoes and red pepper. Bring to a simmer.

When the pot of water boils, cook the pasta till al dente, then drain and place in a serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with more parmesan in a small bowl on the table.

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