Friday, November 11, 2005

'Ho Pasta

The joy of this pasta is two-fold: (1) You can make it when you think there is nothing to eat in your house and (2) The whole thing is done in the time it takes to boil spaghetti. It's my take on pasta puttanesca. For those who, like me, missed the obvious cognates, "pasta puttanesca" loosely translates as "whore's pasta"or, as I like to affectionally refer to it "'Ho Pasta"--indicating that it is so easy and quick to make that even the laziest slattern could whip up a batch between tricks. Ahem, so as I was saying, I make this all the time.

'Ho Pasta or (for those with more delicate sensibilities) Nothing in the House Pasta

Boil in a large pot:
1 lb spaghetti (or whatever pasta's around)

While the pasta is cooking, put a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pulped (I do this with a very find handheld grater, but if you don't have one better to just smoosh the peeled garlic clove with the side of a heavy knife. Don't mince it up, you wind up with lots of little acrid blackened bits of garlic that way.)

Fry the garlic until it smells good, then turn the heat up to high and add:
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
I always have tomato paste around. Probably because I buy it in giant Costco-sized amounts. You could use real tomatoes, but I have never, ever had tomatoes around with no other fresh food or meat available.

Fry the tomato paste until it caramelizes, maybe 4 minutes. It should darken in color and stick to the pan.

Sprinkle in:
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Lower the heat slightly and toss in one of the following, and fry until you the spaghetti gets done:
1/2 cup of hard salami, diced
2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/3 cup pancetta, diced
2-3 anchovies, drained, minced, and rinsed, or anchovy paste
a handful of black olives, pitted and diced
Whatever salty and/or nitrite-laden meat/fish/olive product you have on hand, basically.

When the pasta is done, save a cup of the cooking water and then drain. Dump the noodles into the pan holding the "sauce." Toss to coat, and add the cooking water a bit at a time until the pasta is moist enough for your taste.

At this point, grind black pepper over it and eat. Or, you can go for the frou-frou variation (Courtesan Pasta? Geisha Pasta?). At the last possible minute, take the pan off the heat and crack in an egg. Turn the pasta so that the egg coats the strands. Try to avoid the scrambled egg effect by turning quickly, or letting the pasta cool ever-so-slightly before adding the egg. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and eat. (OK, maybe "frou-frou" is not quite right. After all, a 'ho's a 'ho, right? How about "tarted up"?)


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