Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Red Pepper

Made with Juice and Zest from a Lemon, and Capers










Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Red Pepper
Recipe type: Pasta, Vegetarian, Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 6 servings
When I am tired of tomato sauces and I want pasta with an easy, yet satisfying taste I turn to extra virgin olive oil, lots of garlic, red pepper flakes, flat leaf Italian parsley, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sprinkled over the top. A microplane grater makes quick work of grating a block of cheese. Although Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is expensive, a little goes a long way because of its depth of flavor. Once you have tried freshly grated cheese, you won’t be satisfied with pre-grated parmesan cheese in those green cans. The olive oil loses some of its distinctive taste when heated, which is why we are reserving half of it to add to the dish when it is off the heat. After the basics, you can throw in extras like tuna fish, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, Kalamata olives, broccoli, spinach leaves, asparagus, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves or a myriad of other ingredients to switch up the pace. If you are adding chunky ingredients, it is good to use chunky-shaped pasta. The base recipe clings nicely to any of the long pastas. There is a classic Italian dish called Pasta Aglio Olio e Peperoncino which is made with those basic ingredients I described. Here is a base recipe which you can tweak to your own tastes.
  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice
  • 12 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, sliced very thin or minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup packed flat Italian parsley leaves, chopped coarsely
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground coarse black pepper
  • Salt
  • Water
  1. Cook the pasta in a large amount of salted water for a minute or two less than the time suggested on the package. Taste. The pasta should be cooked, but still a little short of the ideal “al dente”. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a skillet large enough to hold the drained pasta, heat 6 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the garlic and the red pepper flakes in the oil until the garlic is golden, but not browned, about a minute or two. Stir in the drained pasta and some of the pasta water to moisten the pasta if needed. Add the reserved extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground coarse black pepper to taste, the parsley and any add-ins that you would like. Serve the pasta with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.





Recipe type: Salads, Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 16 servings
Middle Eastern food has become mainstream in some areas of the country. For me, a favorite Mediterranean meal includes tabouli, hummus (a dip made of garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini (sesame seed butter), lemon juice, and spices), falafel (garbanzo bean fritters made with parsley, cilantro, and spices) and pita or pocket bread. When making salads, there is tremendous flexibility in proportions for all of the ingredients so that you can create the salad that appeals to your tastes. Some versions of this Middle Eastern salad are predominantly bulgur wheat, the cracked, steamed whole wheat grains that have been dried and are reconstituted with boiling water. I like to use fine bulgur, sometimes called #1, but other grinds work well although they will require longer soaking to soften. Other versions of the salad are rich in herbs and this is one of those, using a large quantity of mint and flat leaf Italian parsley to produce a more intensely flavored salad. This recipe is a starting point for you to modify and make your own. Sometimes this salad is our whole meal with the addition of garbanzo beans, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. Some people like the addition of a pepper sauce such as Tabasco. When I make a large batch of salad (and the following recipe makes 4 generous entrée salads or 16 side salad portions) I do not add salt to the salad bowl unless I am sure that we won’t have leftovers. I do not want salt drawing the water out of the herbs, cucumber, and tomatoes and leaving the salad watery. For the same reason, I use the feta cheese and Kalamata olives as a garnish. If you use salty items like cheese, olives, capers or anchovies with your salad, you may want to limit the salt that you use to season the salad. This recipe comes together quickly and easily if you use a food processor. You can get similar results by chopping and dicing ingredients with a good knife, but it will take much longer.
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 green onions, tops included
  • 1 large bunch fresh mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 2 large bunches fresh flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 pound of English or Persian cucumbers
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper sauce such as Tabasco (optional)
  • Garbanzo beans (optional)
  • Kalamata olives (optional)
  • Feta cheese (optional)
  1. Place bulgur wheat in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the wheat and mix to moisten all of the grains. Set aside to rehydrate the wheat while you work on the other ingredients. Slice the green onions and using the steel knife, pulse them in the food processor. Leave them in there as you pulse the first batch of herbs. Remove the spearmint leaves from their coarse stems. Cut the bottoms off the parsley bunches, discard and remove the leaves from the stems if the stems are very coarse. Pulse the herbs until they are finely chopped and transfer them to your salad bowl. Core and quarter the tomatoes and pulse until chopped and add to the salad bowl. Cut the cucumbers into large chunks and pulse until chopped and add them to the salad. If the wheat is softened and there is water remaining, drain the excess liquid. Pour the wheat into the salad bowl and add lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, black ground pepper, salt, and pepper sauce if you are using it. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. You can add more vinegar if you prefer your salad to be more acidic. Serve in bowls and garnish with desired condiments.