I have to come clean. Last week I fell, and I fell hard. It started when a family friend and neighbor invited me over for an Indian holiday lunch. I ate many, many of her homemade spinach and cheese samosas, and they were worth every single bite. A few days later my parents came over for an early birthday celebration for Owen, and they brought a cake from Greenberg’s on the Upper East Side. You guys, the frosting. It’s like a ganache that never fully hardens, so it always tastes like it was poured over the cake five minutes before you stuff it in your face. My whole family is obsessed with it–we get it for all our birthdays. Again, my slice (or three) was totally worth it.
But then things kind of spiraled, as they do, and Sunday afternoon found me eating cold, congealing taco dip off a buffet table at a party for one of Owen’s friends. Why? I was starving and there were limited options, but still. My stomach was not happy. Totally not worth it.
I wanted to get back on track this week–and fast. This quick, simple pasta dish, called spaghetti aglio e olio in Italian, was just the ticket. You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten. She adds a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese with the parsley. I’ve replaced it with a shower of toasted panko thrown in at the end.
As far as pastas go, this is about as light as they come. It’s garlicy, spicy, and just a little nutty from the panko. It goes great with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe or a crisp romaine and orange salad. Use 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes if you can handle the heat.
Emergency Vegan Pasta with Garlic, Chili, and Breadcrumbs
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Ina Garten
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 or 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted vegan panko breadcrumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a pot or pan large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is just beginning to turn golden at the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the reserved pasta water and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.
Add the pasta and parsley and toss to combine. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes to absorb some of the sauce. Sprinkle with the panko just before serving.