Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Garlic Pasta Miracle (An Italian version of Mother’s Chicken Soup)

While attending our daughter’s graduation from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, my wife, Penny, became very sick. She barely made it to the ceremony and courageously accompanied us to celebrate at an Italian restaurant in South Philly (she was green as our salad). The restaurant owner recognized her plight and told her that he had the perfect remedy, which he would cook personally. During the dinner, Penny showed signs of improvement and ecco - by morning she was her old self. Now, whenever we are feeling down, we head for the kitchen to prepare this miracle food cure.

1 1/2 large bulbs garlic*
½ to ¾ cup, non virgin olive oil  
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
A large handful of parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Asiago (or parmesan) cheese
1 Ladle of pasta water

Remove paper and skin from each garlic clove, and slice into thin chips.  Place garlic chips in a small but heavy pan and pour in the olive oil. Turn on the heat and adjust to keep to a low simmer, stirring occasionally. As the garlic starts to darken, turn off heat and wait until the garlic turns a light to medium brown. Immediately remove garlic with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels. The garlic should become crisp.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta and when it is ready, pour a ladle full of pasta water into the oil. Drain pasta, dump it into a large bowl then add the oil, parsley, salt, fresh ground pepper and the cheese. Top with the garlic chips and serve with crusty bread and a tomato salad. A fresh Burgundy or a white Cote de Rhone will finish off the remaining germs.

*When you have old garlic, cut it lengthwise and look for a yellow to green core, which tells you that the garlic is getting on and probably bitter. Using a small, sharply pointed knife cut out this inner stem and the taste will be restored.

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