Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trucker's Pasta

As you probably know by now, I love pasta, and I judge books by their pasta recipes; if there is something intriguing about a name or a combination of ingredients I've never heard of before (and that sounds good to me), then I usually get the book.

This is from Made in Sicily, a lovely book by Giorgio Locatelli, who went to Sicily and found out how this old island - part of Italy and yet its own world - goes about cooking. This pasta is substantial, as its name implies, and yet there is no meat in it; and really, barely any cooking to speak of, besides boiling the water for pasta and some brief chopping.

The main problem I had with it was finding the right kind of pasta - the almighty bucatini, which looks like a fat spaghetti and pretty much is...until you look at it and see it's hollow! This is truly tubular pasta, therefore, and it is the one most suited to this dish. You could use linguine for it as well, but bucatini simply looks more truck driver-like to me. (For UK residents - I found mine at Sainsbury's; otherwise an Italian deli with a halfway decent pasta section should have it.)

Be warned: this is a very filling pasta. You don't have to know how to drive a truck to eat it, you just have to be hungry. I'm going to give you the recipe for four people - it can be easily divided into a meal for two, or one really hungry person.


450g chopped tomatoes (I used ones from a box because I could; canned is just as good)
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced as finely as you can
10 basil leaves, finely chopped
5 mint leaves, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g bucatini (or linguine if you can't find it)
80g pecorino cheese, grated

Once you have all these, the battle is half over. First, the sauce - get a big bowl and put the tomatoes, oil, garlic and herbs in it, one after another, and stir them up well and let them sit for an hour. You can just leave the bowl right there on the counter, it doesn't have to go anywhere special. Towards the end of the hour is a good time to get the water boiling and grate the cheese.

Once the water's boiling, make sure the pasta gets in the water all at once (Locatelli says you should use a fork to curl it). Cook it for a while, but drain it before it's absolutely done; save some of the pasta water and add it to your sauce. Add your pasta to the bowl and mix up well, adding about 70g of the pecorino and continue until it's nicely coated. Transfer to a good warm plate or bowl and add the rest of the cheese and be amazed at how a sauce as simple as this can taste so good. Salute!

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