Calabrian Chile Pasta — The Weekender
I believe that everyone should know how to make a simple but delicious one-pot pasta dish. It needs to taste good, use only pantry and fridge basics, and dirty a minimal number of tools and utensils. Think boxed mac and cheese, only without the lurid orange powdered cheese.
The beauty of these one-pot pasta dishes is that that you use a minimal amount of water when cooking the pasta. You retain all the starch from the pasta in the pan, which makes for a luscious sauce, and you don’t have to wait 45 minutes for a gallon of water to come to a boil. Once the pasta is cooked, you add just a few ingredients, give it a good stir, and serve.
Currently, I’m most fond of Giada De Laurentiis’ approach to the one-pot pasta meal. Her Calabrian Chile Pasta cooks in no time and tastes amazing. You start with an inch of water in a high-sided saute pan. Once it boils, you add a pound of pasta and cook until it’s al dente (stirring regularly to determine whether it needs an additional splash of water).
Then it’s a matter of dumping and stirring. She has you add grated Pecorino, quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped chives, a little lemon juice and zest, a drizzle of olive oil and a few spoonfuls of Calabrian chile paste. I also like to wilt in some baby spinach for extra veg and will often add some leftover roast chicken if I have any (cold salmon would also be good).
I do have a warning about this recipe: The Calabrian chile paste is a specialty item, sold mostly at Italian markets. If you can’t lay your hands on a bottle, don’t write off this dish. Instead, use a little pesto, romesco, tapenade or even sambal oelek (which is an Asian chile-and-garlic paste). Heck, you could even make yourself a little slurry of tomato paste, crushed red chile flakes, and olive oil and call it a day .
Start planning your Weekender now! Instead of calling for takeout after a day of holiday shopping and prep, lay in a few supplies and practice your one-pot pasta skills!