When I'm hungry and wanting a seriously good dinner but loath to return to the market yet again, I issue myself the Pantry Meal Challenge. Inevitably, garlic, olive oil and pasta play a role and the next go-to ingredient is either a can of beans or a tin of anchovies.
There are numerous iterations of aglio olio pasta, but I like the way this hefty amount of anchovies so assertively balances the garlic. Mint, Meyer lemon zest and red chile are pronounced supporting actors while vermouth, capers and Parm tie everything together beautifully.
cloves garlic (more if you’re positively wild for intense garlic), minced or put through a press
(scant if your chile flakes are quite strong or quite fresh), crushed red pepper flakes
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
chopped fresh mint
whole wheat spaghetti
kosher salt, Maldon salt
In This Recipe
Set a 4-quart pot of well-salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil.
In the meantime, place the oil and butter in a 10" skillet set over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the anchovies and garlic.
Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine and cook until the garlic is soft and the anchovies have melted away, pressing on or mashing them gently along the way. Add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest, mint, Vermouth and capers. Stir well to combine, remove from heat and set aside.
When the pasta water is boiling, add enough whole wheat spaghetti for 2 people and cook for two minutes less than the directions state. Towards the end, remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water and reserve. When the pasta is two minutes from done, drain.
Set the skillet with the oil-anchovy mixture over medium heat, add the drained pasta, 1/4 cup of cooking water and 1/4 cup of Parm. Stirring continuously, cook until the added cooking water has been absorbed and the Parm has melted in. If the pasta does not yet taste done, add the rest of the cooking water and continue to stir/cook. Add the rest of the cheese, season with salt, garnish with any remaining mint/lemon zest and serve.