~ Farfalle w/Butter, Basil, Peperoncino & Parmesan (Basic Pasta al Burro con Formaggino w/Panache) ~
When I'm having a serious late night snack attack, the kind that two or three slices of cheese, some salty deli meat and a few crackers can't cure, for me, a one-pot pasta dish is always on my short list. The criteria: it must be simple, straightforward, seriously flavorful, and, on my plate in the time it takes to pour a glass of wine and cook the pasta -- start to finish: 15 minutes tops!
Pasta al Burro con Formaggino (Pasta w/Butter & Cheese):
The Italians came up with a solution for the snack attack centuries ago in the form of: pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese). It's a "no nonsense feed me now" meal, a delightful side-dish, and, depending upon what pasta shape you use (long strands of various thicknesses or bite-sized and fork-friendly), it's a delicious foil for all sorts of flavorful sauces. This dish is one of my favorites, but, over time, I added a few ingredients to the basic recipe -- to suit myself and give it the "seriously flavorful" flair I was craving (and my family adores it too):
My version of the classic/basic dish -- "I did it my way.":
My version of the dish must be prepared with fresh basil and sea salt. Trust me when I tell you, the slivers of licoricey basil and salty tang that only sea salt can provide is what turns this dish and me on with each bite, so, don't waste time with other foolhardy (reckless, rash, irresponsible, impulsive) and disappointing fresh herb substitutions. While garlic adds great flavor to the dish it is not necessary to its success, but, the dish will be an overwhelming failure if you substitute fresh for granulated (use granulated 'garlic powder'). The peperoncino (red pepper flakes) for heat are optional, but, freshly-ground black pepper or peppercorn blend taste marvelous too!
A bit about farfalle (fahr-FAH-leh): In Italian "farfalle" literally means "butterfly", but it's commonly referred to as "bow ties" because of the distinct resemblence. Farfalle is a small, flat, fork-friendly pasta shape with a large surface area for its size. They are made from cut squares of pasta that are pinched (sometimes twisted) in the center.
It lends itself well to pasta dishes with very chunky sauces or pasta salads that get tossed and coated with a flavorful dressing -- it is the vehicle that holds the chunky sauce or diced salad ingredients during the short trip from plate to fork to mouth. It's my first choice for this dish, with wagon wheels or radiators coming in a close second and third. Are my choices whimsical ? Perhaps. Are they correct? Absolutely.
1 tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning pasta water
1 stick salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder, not fresh garlic
1 teaspoon peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
1/2 cup thin "chiffonade" ("thin strips/little ribbons/shreds") (Note: This is really a quick and easy way to cut fresh basil leaves without bruising it. Stack them on top of them, largest to smallest, roll them up cigar-style, then slice through the "cigar" to achive the desired thickness. Repeat the process with another stack or two, until you have 1/2 cup.)
1 cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
additional finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for topping pasta
4 sprigs of pretty basil tops for garnish
~ Step 1. In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt. Sprinkle in the pasta, give the water a quick stir, and continue to cook, according to package directions until pasta is al dente, about 10-11 minutes -- testing after 9 minutes.
~ Step 2. Turn heat off and drain pasta into colander. Work as quickly as possible, but don't make yourself crazy. You need the stockpot to remain hot and the stovetop to remain warm.
Cheese will be melted/disappeared and pasta will be evenly enrobed in butter mixture:
~ When Life Hands You a Basket of Grape Tomatoes: Get Sauced: Make a Batch of Oven-Roasted Magic ~
Special Equipment List: 8-quart stockpot w/lid; cutting board; chef's knife; microplane grater; colander
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite recipes, which is a variation on this "pasta al burro con formaggino" theme, click into Categories 3,4, 12, 14 0r 20 to get my recipe for ~ Dad's Mac & Cheese, or: What I Cook Just for Me ~. I grew up eating this one before I ever found out it had its roots in Italian cooking!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)