An easy recipe to spice up spaghetti

February 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Make an easy pasta dish at home that will spice up spaghetti.

Spaghetti for dinner! Paul Canales, the executive chef of Oliveto in Oakland, showed us what you can do to spice up this classic.

Recipe: Spaghetti with pancetta, cauliflower, hot peppers, oregano, and breadcrumbs

  • ½ each -- Medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • ½ pound -- Spaghetti
  • 3 ounces -- Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces -- Pancetta, thinly sliced and cut into 1" "flags"
  • 2 cloves -- Garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon -- Hot pepper flakes
  • 6 ounces -- Best quality canned tomatoes, finely chopped with their juices (in Summer, use two medium fresh ripe beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 4 sprigs -- Fresh oregano leaves (in summer, use fresh basil), roughly chopped
  • ½ cup -- Breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water (to taste like the ocean) to the boil and add the cauliflower florets. When they are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Take the cauliflower out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the spaghetti to the water the cauliflower was cook in.

In a 12" sauté pan, heat up 2 ounces of the olive oil and all of the pancetta. When the pancetta begins to wilt and turn brown around the edges, add cauliflower and coat the florets in olive oil and pancetta renderings. Next, add the garlic and pepper flakes and "bloom them for about 5 - 10 seconds, but do not allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and oregano and fry over high heat for about a minute, then lower heat to the lowest level, bringing the sauce together and marrying the flavors.

By the time the sauce is ready, the spaghetti should be close to being cooked. Test the spaghetti so that it is cooked, but still firm to the tooth - al dente. When the spaghetti is al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce and raise the heat to high. Mix the pasta and the sauce vigorously in order to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce and some of the starch from the pasta to thicken the sauce. Add a little of the pasta water as needed to keep the sauce moist. Toss in half of the breadcrumb and distribute spaghetti and sauce into four hot bowls. Top with the remaining breadcrumbs and serve immediately. Makes four generous servings.

Oliveto Restaurant
5655 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618

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