This is actually the second time I'm posting this recipe. I had another instance of the SecondShift and taught a group of friends how to make this most wonderful pasta nearly two years in Brooklyn, and posted about all the fun. Somewhere around the time I moved to London, the domain of that site expired, and I lost all of the content. Multiple attempts to contact Wordpress be damned, all of those lovely blogs were lost to past versions of the Internet.
Of course, I'm drawing a lesson from this for the purposes of my loyal readership (hi Dad!) but creation, creativity and putting yourself out there have ups and downs. You can put your heart and soul into a dish, only to have it not quite come together. You blog 1-2 times a week for a year only to have all of it disappear into a puff of code. Failures, mistakes, and technical difficulties are part and parcel of putting effort into anything. So you pause, breath, take stock of the rubble and then begin again.
Now difficulties and how gracefully we deal with them are great and all, but sometimes after a bunch of grace under pressure, you just want something that feels dead easy and always works, and this pasta is THAT. I found this recipe in a cookbook called In the Kitchen with Rosie, which was a gift to me from my mum on my 11th Christmas. Of course The Winfrey would love this amazing dish, and I've made it probably 500 hundreds time over the course of my life. It's so simple, but so vibrant. Light, but deeply satisfying. It cooks in the amount of time it takes to cook pasta. You can get the ingredients in any 24-hour corner shop, and it's great from deepest darkest winter to the hottest summer days.
My technique with this recipe has evolved over the years to simply include more of everything, but the main keys are letting the al-dente pasta finish cooking in the sauce, adding a touch of your starchy pasta water, and then of course, liberal use of parmesan.
Spaghetti with Lemon and Tomato
1 package number 8 spaghetti
1 can chopped tomatoes, or 3-4 medium fresh tomatoes chopped
2 lemons, zested and juiced
Big pinch of red chili
4-5 large cloves of garlic, chopped
Good olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Oregano, flat leaf parsley, basil, roughly chopped (but no worries if you don't have them)
A big hunk of parmesan, finely grated.
Get a big pot of water on high heat and add three big spoonfuls of salt. While the water comes to a boil, chop your tomatoes, or open the can, zest the lemons, juice the lemons, chop your garlic, and chop your herbs. You want everything ready before you add the pasta to the water.
Just as the water is getting to a boil, get 3-4 big glugs of olive oil heating in a deep pan on the stove. Add your garlic and your chili and cook slowly over low heat, until the garlic starts to waft its smell into your kitchen. Add your tomatoes, lemon and zest and turn the heat up to medium. Add a big pinch of salt and some black pepper. Add half of your parmesan and half of your herbs. Watch your heat. You want the tomatoes to simmer and break down, but not dry up.
Drop your spaghetti into the water, and swirl around. Let cook for 5-6 minutes. Take a piece out and taste it every 2 minutes or so. You want it to taste pre al-dente, aka still a little bit too hard to eat. Before you drain, dip a mug into the murky, starchy water and set this aside.
Drop your drained pasta into the tomato mixture and coat evenly, if the sauce does coat the pasta all over, add some of your pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pasta is cooked through and has absorbed the tomato sauce. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and toss with the rest of your parmesan and herbs.