Spaghetti alla Carrettiera

Regina loves this pasta, and why not? It’s pretty damn amazing and pretty damn simple to make. The key, however, is starting with a fantastic tomato sauce, full of flavor and tomato-y goodness. So it’s lucky my last post was Pomodoro Perfecto; you’ll have to make that first before getting into this one.

Cart Drivers just love the pasta!!

The name of this pasta means Cart-Driver’s spaghetti, and if you can tell me why cart drivers in Italy like extra garlic and chili flakes then, by all means, share that info. I don’t know that answer, any more than I know why coal-miners insist on spaghetti with eggs, cheese & pancetta or guanciale (see spaghetti alla carbonara, which I’ll tackle in a post quite soon). In any event, for whatever reason, spaghetti alla carrattiera is a wonderful dish — fresh-tasting, zesty, light, yet full of flavor.

Some tips about cooking pasta:

This will sound somewhat patronizing, but be sure to read the recommended cooking time for al dente pasta on the box. Whether you use some fancy, pricey noodle or just Barilla (which I think is totally acceptable for this dish) the pasta makers actually do know how long it takes to cook. Don’t throw it against the wall or some such silly thing. And cook it a little harder than you think you’ll want to eat it when you actually get it to the table; pasta retains a lot of heat and will continue cooking as you transfer it into a hot sauce and then finally into a serving dish. I find that nine minutes is perfect for spaghetti.

Also, don’t forget to use a lot of water and salt the cooking water generously. My general rule of thumb is to boil about six quarts of water for every pound of pasta, and add about three teaspoons of kosher salt to that. Bring the water up to a vigorous boil before dropping in the pasta, and stir the pasta frequently but slowly so it doesn’t get the chance to stick.

Finally, don’t you dare rinse that pasta under cold water!!

You’ll need:

• 1 pound of dry spaghetti

• 3 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil

• 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

• 4 large basil leaves, torn by hand into large pieces

• 2 cups pomodoro sauce

• 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or more if ya dig it spicey!)

• 1/2 teaspoon of salt

• a pinch of sugar

• parmigiana reggiano cheese, grated

Do this:

Set up a big pot of salted water to boil the spaghetti.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until very fragrant and just turning brown at the edges. Flip garlic slices over with a spoon or tongs. Add basil leaves and cook for one minute. Add pomodoro sauce, chili flakes, salt, and sugar. Stir well and cook gently for about ten minutes, stirring frequently.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Add hot pasta to saute pan, turn off heat under the pan, and, using tongs, turn pasta to coat all noodles thoroughly with sauce. Put pasta into a serving bowl or individual plates and top with generous quantities of grated cheese.

Drink a glass of good red wine and eat this with a fantastic salad.

Mangia, mangia!

I think this dish is a great centerpiece for Meatless Mondays. It’s so lively it’ll make even the carnivores forget about flesh for a while. 

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