Elegant in its simplicity, this dish was just the thing after an arduous trip home from Jersey. I was a little uncomfortable traveling in the lousy weather we had this weekend, but I was really looking forward to seeing these friends of ours. I knew Neeta would love their house, and I expected to have a great time visiting with my old friend from college days (in the 1890's) Well, we did have a great visit, but it was tiring. The trip there was in a driving rain. The evening lasted till 2:00 AM., and I forgot it was time to set the clocks ahead for Daylight Savings. I slept "like a twig" because it was an unfamiliar bed. And, the trip home took a really long time because of the rain and the fact that they closed the bottom deck of the George Washington Bridge. When we finally did arrive home, we were hungry, but I was not in the mood for cooking anything that would take a lot of preparation. Friends, in times like these, a dish like this is perfect. It's easy, delicious and quick. The only caveat I would add is make sure you have good quality ingredients. Then, you can not go wrong.
Spaghetti for two. I recommend if you are trying this that you use spaghetti
because it compliments the other textures in the dish best.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
A can of boneless sardines packed in olive oil, drained and broken up
A small bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley (fresh), minced
About two tablespoons of good quality breadcrumbs
Your best quality extra virgin olive oil
Put the pasta water on to boil. While it is getting hot, mince the garlic and parsley and open the sardines, drain and break them into bite sized pieces. When the water comes to the boil, salt it and drop in the pasta. With spaghetti, you will need to cook it about 11 minutes to get it to the point where it is still about one minute shy of being "al dente". That's how long you have to do the rest.
So, I started to get my skillet hot about 4 minutes after I dropped my pasta into the boiling water and stirred it around to make sure it wasn't sticking (The key is using plenty of water). Then, I added the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan.
After the garlic starts to turn slightly golden and you can smell its luscious aroma, add the sardines to the pan.
You may find that you come to a point in the process where your pasta still needs a minute or two but your garlic and sardines are ready. (Remember, you don't want the garlic to burn- it will become quite bitter)
No problem. Simply add a little of the pasta water to the pan as you see me doing here.
When the pasta reaches the crucial point (of about 11minutes) when it still needs another minute to become perfectly al dente, drain it and add it immediately to the pan. Make sure before you do that that there is sufficient water in the pan (about 6 ounces) to cover the bottom and be soaked up by the pasta during the final minute of cooking. During that minute your heat should be on high. If you are still wondering why we do this at this late point of following my blog, it's because of the first law of Your Italian Grandma pasta preparation; NEVER LET THE PASTA WAIT FOR THE SAUCE.
As soon as the pasta has finished absorbing the liquid in the pan and has reached the point of perfection, turn off the heat. Then, add your best quality olive oil (at least 3-4 tablespoons) and the parsley. Stir and plate the pasta. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta and serve. No cheese please- it doesn't go with seafood. Simple and delicious!