In Case of Emergency, Please Make This Pasta

It’s 5 o’clock. You’re headed home, you’re tired, and you’re hungry. You want some real people food, but you don’t really want to make food or mess up a lot of dishes. Or maybe you have a last-minute date with a new romantic interest. Or maybe your best friend has had a bad day and you want to treat them to some starch and wine. In case of emergencies such as these, make this pasta.

Yes, you could dump a jar of pasta sauce over pasta and call it a day, but you’re in the mood to accomplish something. Also, you ran out of pasta sauce yesterday.

To serve one, you’ll need: 

  • Pasta enough to sate your appetite (I’m a linguini fiend, but any long pasta will do)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, depending on how you feel about garlic, chopped finely
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan or romano or whatever shredded cheese you have, about 1/4 cup (this does not need to be exact)
  • A couple generous tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Or butter.
  • Bonus: pine nuts or chopped walnuts if you have them.
Just double this if you’re feeding two.

To make, do this:

  1. Boil some water. Add salt as it comes to a boil. Put your pasta in to cook according the package directions. Pro-tip: check for doneness a minute before the package claims. I often find that it’s perfectly al dente by that point.
  2. While you’re waiting for the pasta to cook, heat up a small pan with the olive oil (or butter). Chop up your garlic into small pieces and toss that in the hot oil. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook this for about a minute. Turn the oil/garlic/pepper mixture into a bowl.
  3. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander. Don’t rinse! Just put it into your bowl and toss it with the oil mixture. Add cheese. If you have the pine nuts or chopped walnuts, add them.

Dinner is served.

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

21 replies on “In Case of Emergency, Please Make This Pasta”

I love doing this pasta, so simple and yummy. If you feel like adding veggies, you can throw some cut up broccolini (or chopped kale or chard or asparagus, whatever you want) into the pasta water about 2-3 minutes before it’s done cooking and drain like usual. Alternatively you can saute the veggies in the oil mixture, if your pan is big enough.

When I’m lazy and/or out of tomato sauce I often make pasta similar to this, but just covered in cheese and butter. I’ll have to try to fancy garlic and red pepper flake combination next time. I’m not crazy about adding the nuts though. Adding nuts to pasta just seems odd to me, but to each their own.

This sounds so, so good. My guts don’t handle tomato well, so all of my pasta jazz tends to look a lot like this. My favorite secret is to add a teeny bit (a teeny bit – like a quarter teaspoon per serving at most) of lemon curd. It adds such a nice, rich flavor with the walnuts in particular, and you don’t use enough to create a calorie nightmare.

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