Olive Oil

A Chef's Desert Island Pasta

April  6, 2016

As a chef, I'm often asked if I have a Desert Island Food. It's actually one of my favorite questions, because I don’t think twice about my answer: pasta with olive oil, chili, and garlic.

But more than a Desert Island dish, it’s the meal that with a minimally stocked pantry is always only 10 minutes away. I make it when I come home late at night after work, or for a lazy Sunday lunch. I make it after a full day of international flights and trains and cars, when I arrive ravenous at my family house in Tuscany and we haven’t yet had time to shop.

Olive oil, garlic, and chili will keep for quite a long time in a pantry, and if I'm lucky, a handful of parsley will have reseeded itself in the herb garden outside the kitchen door. It's always quick (one of the few sauces you can prepare while the pasta cooks), and it's a building block for all sorts of additions—seared shrimp, leftover fish, or a handful of greens rescued from the refrigerator.

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Italians never eat this with grated cheese, but I like the addition if I have some. If not, eat it like an Italian, and pair simply with a glass of red wine.

Tell us: What's your desert island dish?

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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1 Comment

Susan H. April 8, 2016
i make this quite often...i like to throw in extras too...like tomatoes, broccoli, shrimp if i have it...lemon zest...and finish with parm...