The vegetarian table has come of age. No longer the poor cousin of omnivorous eating, meatless cooking now features as much depth in spices and flavors as one expects from the best meat-loving chefs and kitchens. In Herbivoracious, author Michael Natkin’s goal was to take meatless cooking beyond the bland and “crunchy” into a realm of intense, vibrant, globally inspired flavors. The following excerpt features a vegetarian or vegan option for the classic Italian dish spaghetti aglio e olio (with garlic and oil).
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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Spagehetti with Garlic and Oil)
Other than tossing noodles with butter and cheese, making spaghetti aglio e olio is just about the simplest way to prepare pasta. You can have this ready two minutes after the pasta is done boiling, so it makes a perfect meal when the day gets away from you but you still want to eat something home-cooked.
While the dish is very simple to make, it can achieve perfection through attention to a few details. The clean and direct flavors of extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, spiked up with a few hot pepper flakes, are all it takes to make this dish outstanding. I often gild the lily with a handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh bread crumbs, but there are others who will insist this is sacrilege. The choice is yours.
• 1 pound spaghetti
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 garlic cloves (or to your taste), thinly sliced
• Hot red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 cup minced fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
• 1/2 cup Homemade Bread Crumbs (optional)
• Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Warm your serving bowls in a low (200 degrees) oven.
2. Add the spaghetti and cook for the minimum time specified on the package.
3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, a pinch (or more) of hot red pepper flakes, and salt and cook until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Test a strand of pasta, and if it is not yet al dente, let it cook for another minute. When the pasta is done, scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta.
5. Turn the heat under your skillet to medium-high, and add the pasta to the oil along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss thoroughly with tongs, adding more of the pasta water if it seems dry.
6. Divide the pasta among the serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and the bread crumbs and cheese, if using. Serve immediately. Serves 3 to 4
More Recipes from Herbivoracious
Reprinted with permission from Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution, with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes. Recipe © 2013 by Michael Natkin and used with permission of The Harvard Common Press. Buy this book from our store: Herbivoracious.