Welcome to the second in our 3-part series of Chef-inspired recipes we’re trying. See part one here. This time, we’re doing Pasta Aglio e Olio, another simple but delicious meal. For those who have seen the movie Chef, it’s the pasta dish Jon Favreau makes for Scarlett Johansson late at night after the review comes in. It’s simple, clean, and only has 6 ingredients. For our take on it, we used homemade spaghetti, which is also easy to make and is noticeably better than store-bought dried noodles.
The longest part of this recipe is making the spaghetti noodles, and that’s only because you need to let it rest. If you don’t have the means to make your own noodles, then try to find fresh noodles in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, otherwise, you should be fine with dried noodles.
All spaghetti noodle recipes are essentially the same: eggs, salt, and flour. For our recipe, we used 4 eggs, about 2 ½ cups of flour, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Start by whisking the eggs and salt together in a large bowl until well mixed. Then slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is formed and is no longer sticky. Your noodles will not roll and cut correctly if it’s sticky, but don’t let it get crumbly either, hence adding the flour slowly and knead a little when you think you’re close to the right consistency.
Once done, let your dough ball rest in a bowl for an hour, covered with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out. Once rested, cut your dough into four equal pieces and get your pasta roller out. Flatten your pieces as much as possible with a rolling pin and set your pasta roller to the thickest setting. Put your dough through the roller and make sure it’s coming out smooth without too many frayed edges. If it’s not smooth, fold it into thirds and continue running it through the roller until smooth, essentially kneading it a little more. Once smooth, continue reducing the thickness of the pasta roller until the desired thickness. We love our Kitchenaid mixer and the pasta maker attachment. We usually start at “1” and finish on thickness “3”, which seems to be a good thickness for our pasta cutter.
Run your dough through the pasta cutter and dust the noodles with a little flour to prevent them from sticking together. If they are stuck together coming out of the cutter, just gently pull them apart. Set aside until you’re ready to cook them. Once ready, heat water in a large port and add some salt to boil the noodles. These should take about 10 minutes to cook or you can adjust the time based on your preferred tenderness. After boiling, I like to drain and then rinse with cold water to get rid of any leftover starch. Set aside and prep for the rest of the dish.
This is one of those recipes where it’s beneficial to do all the prep ahead of time since it’s fast and there are only a few things to chop. Start with the parsley; you’ll need about 1 cup of chopped parsley. Then slice up 12 garlic cloves as thinly as possible. You can adjust the volume of garlic based on your tastes. Then cut a lemon into wedges and set aside for later. If you like your Parmesan cheese freshly grated, then you’ll want to grate it now also. We usually just buy the kind that’s already grated. You’ll need about ½ cup of the cheese.
Once everything’s ready, grab a large pan and add 1 cup of olive oil. That’s right, 1 cup; which seems like a lot at first but will be just right once you put everything together. When the oil is hot (use medium heat), add the sliced garlic and cook until it just starts to get golden. You can also add some red pepper flakes in at this time too if you want a little kick to your pasta. Once the garlic is golden, add the parsley and noodles to the pan and toss them to make sure everything is covered. I found that using tongs along with a wooden spoon to be the easiest way to toss the noodles and not make a huge mess.
Putting it All Together
Once the oil, garlic, parsley, and noodles are combined, remove the pan from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Toss again to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Once done, you can plate this simply delicious dish and squeeze a little lemon on top for brightness and garnish with some more Parmesan if desired. We have a large serving fork, so we plate it like the movie does, with a giant swirl of noodles in the middle of the plate. However you serve it, it will still taste just as good.
Side note: If your noodles seem a little dry before plating, you can add some extra olive oil on top and toss it in. This might happen if you ended up with more noodles than you thought. The homemade noodles make just over a pound of noodles, whereas the recipe from the movie calls for just under a pound of cooked noodles. Also, we wanted some extra vegetables with our dish, so we sauteed some bell peppers and added them on the side. It actually really enhanced the flavor, plus we got a few extra veggies.
Join us next time when we tackle the Cubano sandwich, with homemade Cuban bread and mojo-marinated pork!