Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Everything you see I owe to Spaghetti."

Sophia Loren (photo courtesy of in.com.)

 I love this quote from the beautiful, ageless Sophia Loren:
"Everything you see I owe to Spaghetti." 
Born in Rome, Sophia grew up in poverty on the outskirts of Naples and had to eat pasta everyday to survive.  I doubt she still eats a lot of spaghetti today, but nonetheless, it's a great quote.
I love pasta and since I am Italian, it was a staple growing up.  Fortunately, we didn't have to eat it everyday to survive, but we had it about once a week and it continues to show up at family gatherings. 
These days I don't eat pasta as often as I'd like to - remember what happened to Elizabeth Gilbert in the EAT portion of her book Eat Pray Love? That's right, she had to go out and buy a larger pair of jeans while traveling in Italy.  Don't get me wrong, when I get to Italy I plan to eat my way through it as she did, but I'll just plan accordingly and pack some elastic waste-band pants.
 But seriously, there is definitely a place for spaghetti in my life even though the dreaded starchy, refined-white carbohydrates have gotten such a bad rap for a while now.  I do eat pasta, just occasionally and in smaller portions.  Also, I tend to eat the Barilla Plus pasta which is higher in fiber and protein than regular pasta, and is also enriched with the essential fatty acid ALA omega 3, making it a healthier option.  I find there isn't much difference in taste and texture to regular pasta, and I like it much better than whole-wheat pasta which tends to be too heavy and starchy. 
There are many different pasta alternatives out there to try, but you can always just stick with a smaller portion of the regular stuff and enjoy it.  When I do, De Cecco is my brand of choice.

My husband came across this recipe in Everyday Food a couple of years ago and it quickly became one of our favorites even though it calls for anchovies.  I've never been a fan of anchovies themselves: I do like anchovy paste in a Caesar salad, but when crushed in this simple spaghetti recipe, it's delicious -so much so that even my 7-year-old loves it.

Linguini with anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs
1 pound linguini or spaghetti
6 to 10 anchovy fillets plus 2 tablespoons oil from anchovies
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/4 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons of grated parmesan/reggiano cheese
fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
red pepper flakes ( for garnish, optional)

1.)  In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta according to package instructions. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and grated cheese and set aside.  When pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup pasta water then drain. Return (empty) pasta pot to medium heat; add anchovy oil and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2.)  Add anchovies and cook until they have almost dissolved, 30 seconds. Add pasta, lemon zest, and enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the breadcrumbs/cheese mixture and parsley.  Enjoy!

"The Greatest Wealth is Health" - Roman Poet Virgil

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