I was Italian in my past life. No lie. The years I’ve lived have convinced me of such a fact, as they have been filled with an insatiable appetite for pasta of all kinds. Ravioli. Pappardelle. Spaghetti. Penne. I could go on for days naming all of the types of noodles I’ve hit on at one point or another. And regardless of what kind of food I’m making, I somehow manage to inject my love for Italian food into the dish.
For my very first post on this site, I thought it best to start with a little something I put together, inspired by a country that has produced some of my favorite foods. This recipe works for two people, or for one if you’re feeling really hungry like I was when I made it. The simplicity and freshness of ingredients combine to create bursts of unexpected flavor with every bite and will inspire you to make this dish over and over again.
Fettuccine for Two
(Recipe serving size – 2)
For the pasta:
4-6 oz dried fettuccine
2 tb olive oil
1.5 tb kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Bring about 3 inches of water to boil in a large pot. Add oil, salt, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir briefly and let boil for 2-3 minutes more. Add the pasta, stirring at least once to avoid the pasta from clumping together, and continue to boil until al dente.
Remove 1 cup of pasta water before straining the pasta and set aside.
Return the fettuccine to the same pot and remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot to keep the pasta from drying out and sticking together while you are making the sauce.
For the sauce:
2 large beefsteak tomatoes (or 6 plum tomatoes), grated and strained (skins discarded)
10 basil leaves (4 julienned, 6 torn by hand)
1/4 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 cup pasta water, reserved
1 packed cup of kale, chopped (can also use baby spinach)
Zest of 1 lemon
Slice the tomatoes down the center and remove any remnants of the stem. Using a box grater, grate the flesh part of the tomato down to the skin onto a plate utilizing the side of the grater with the largest holes. Discard skins, drain any excess liquid from the grated tomatoes by tipping the plate over a sink, and set aside.
Add oil to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Once oil is ready, add the onions to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a spoon to prevent burning.
Add the grated tomatoes, kosher salt, oregano, thyme, julienned basil and only 1/8 tsp of the crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a vibrant simmer for 8-10 minutes uncovered, allowing flavors to concentrate and any excess water from the grated tomatoes to evaporate. Intermittently add 1 tb of pasta water to keep the sauce from drying out completely if the water from the tomatoes evaporates too quickly.
Add the pasta along with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce and toss together until the sauce coats all of the pasta. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Fold the kale into the pasta and allow the heat from the pasta to wilt the vegetable shy of losing its bite, about 1 minute.
Bringing it all together:
Place pasta into a serving dish. Top with the torn basil, the remaining 1/8 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Stir pasta one last time to incorporate the basil and lemon just before plating. Serve while hot and enjoy!