The late, great Italian cook Marcella Hazan called this a “late night” pasta, designed to satisfy an evening hunger that comes as a result of eating the day’s main meal at noon, as has long been the custom in Italy. It suits our purpose here, too — as one of the simplest, quickest pantry meals you can make. We could eat it at almost any time of day.
The noodles cool down quickly, so it’s nice to serve this in warmed bowls. Here’s a quick way to do that: Just before serving, fill each bowl with just-boiled water, letting them sit for a few minutes before draining and drying them. They should feel warm to the touch.
Could you fold in steamed broccoli florets or sauteed greens? Top the pasta with shaved Parm? Crumble bacon into the pan? The answer is “yes” to all, but there’s something quite nice about Hazan’s dish just the way it is.
Coarse sea salt
6ouncesdried thin spaghetti or mini penne
1medium clove garlic
2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the raisins in a bowl. Cover with lukewarm water and let sit (to plump them) while you cook the pasta.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of salt (see above; it’s more than you think!) and then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Coarsely chop the pine nuts, then use the flat side of a chef’s knife to mash them a bit.
Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, just until the garlic becomes golden, then stir in the chopped pine nuts and cook for a bit longer, until they pick up some color. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Drain the plumped raisins, discarding their soaking water. Coarsely chop them, if desired. Add them to the skillet; as soon as they have warmed through, turn off the heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Add 1 tablespoon of that water to the skillet, stirring to form a light sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon, as needed. Taste, and add salt, as needed.
Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat and incorporate. Season lightly with pepper. Divide between individual warmed bowls (nice, right?). Serve right away.
Calories: 400; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 360 mg; Carbohydrates: 53 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 10 g; Protein: 9 g.