I think I would eat pasta of some kind every single day if I didn’t have any regard for culinary diversity. In fact, I’m pretty sure that when I was young, single, and living in my first apartment, pasta was my daily sustenance. All I needed was a cheap aluminum stockpot from the hardware store, some olive oil, and fresh gratings from the hunk of hard cheese – Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Asiago – that I always had in the fridge.
I’m sure it comes from growing up in an Italian-American family, and being spoon-fed pastina with milk and butter when I was a baby.
Now that I’m grown up and far away from the place I came from, pasta is the only food I crave when I’m sick, or traveling, or just plain tired.
In other words, perfect for a late night Friday dinner. The kids will be in bed, so we’ll sit by the fire with a bottle of wine and big bowls of this spaghetti.
12 ounces imported Italian spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeds intact if you like it hot, sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups prewashed baby arugula
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, to taste
Bring a big pot of generously salted water to a boil. Put the spaghetti in the water and cook until just tender, but firm in the center – al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over moderately low heat. Add the chili and onion and cook until slightly golden brown. Stir in the garlic and cook a few minutes, until fragrant, but be sure not to brown it. Add the arugula and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the drained spaghetti with the olive oil mixture; the arugula will wilt. Serve in large shallow bowls topped with some cheese.