QUICK Spaghetti with Garlicky Olive Oil & Mortadella (romantic dinner for 2)

There was a very strange and unusual occurrence this past Saturday evening at my house: we were without children for the night! They each had impromptu sleepovers with friends and so at about 7.30pm on Saturday, I found myself in the kitchen, alone.

Our quick and romantic dinner for two

Our quick and romantic dinner for two

My man Dave was not home yet and all sorts of thoughts about what we should do with this precious time popped into my head; go to the movies, play music really really loud in the house, order takeout for dinner, read a book, have a party??? None of the above really appealed (except the bit about playing music loud, which I did before Dave came home!), to me so this is what we did. We both sat in the kitchen drinking wine and chatting while I made us dinner. I made something that was un-fussy but still managed to make the house smell wonderful. That’s one of the reasons I hate takeout: no good kitchen smell lingering in the air as you eat!

Mortadella from Bolonga

Mortadella from Bologna. Mortadella hails from Italy and is a large finely ground heat-cured pork hash that is compressed into a large sausage shape. It has added cubes of pork fat and spices. It can also contain things like black pepper, berries or pistachios. I like the pistachio version the best. You can find it at really good delicatessen counters or Italian grocery stores. It’s great thinly sliced on sandwiches or used like I did: chopped and added to a pasta dish.

The thing I didn’t want to do was shop for ingredients, so I made do with what I had. I had lots of garlic, and there is always olive oil and pasta in my pantry so that settled it. I wanted to make a simple garlicky oil that my spaghetti would lovingly cling to. I also had a few ounces of mortadella (read about it above) that was on the verge of expiring so I decided to fry it with the garlic. Mortadella has good fat content so I knew it would add to the oily sauce in a yummy way.

The Ultimate Cheese!

The Ultimate Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano

The reason this was a “romantic” dish is simply because we were alone! But, I do think there is something romantic about pasta. It is so instantly satisfying and appreciates olive oil and garlic the way I do. Pasta like spaghetti, is also fun to eat right out of the pan while the person you love twirls their fork next to you. The other love affair I have is with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  I adore this grainy, strong and heavenly cheese with a passion – surly that merits romance!

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Dave add some fresh crunchy spinach to his plate before helping himself to mounds of pasta.

 We ate heartily until there wasn’t a stand of spaghetti left. It was true pasta love!

*Of course you can double this recipe if it is for 4!*

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*To make this a Blood Type A Diet Recipe simple omit the mortadella and chili. If you want to add some protein, try throwing in enough good quality canned sardines for two right before you toss the pasta into the pan. Also don’t forget your spinach!*

You will need:

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4 med/large cloves garlic – very finely chopped or minced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (chili flakes) – optional

4 oz mortadella – medium dice (pancetta or diced bacon will also work here)

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – grated

1/2 lb good quality spaghetti (barilla is easy to find)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1 – Put pasta water on the stove top immediately with a good teaspoon or two of salt and a little olive oil. Cook according to instructions making sure to not over cook. Scoop out a cup of the hot pasta cooking water right before draining and set aside.

Cook Pasta in water with some salt and a drop of oil

Cook Pasta in water with some salt and a drop of oil

2 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and when it has warmed add the oil. Add the garlic to the pan and stir it into the oil. After about 2 minutes (don’t have the heat so high as to allow the garlic to burn or brown!), add the cayenne pepper flakes (if using) and the chopped mortadella. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes stirring frequently.

fry mortadella with garlic and olive oil

fry mortadella with garlic and olive oil

3 – Have this timed so the pasta is cooked at the same time (in other words, start your garlic and oil about 5 minutes before the pasta is ready to be drained) and add immediately to the garlicky oil. Add a little pasta cooking water (about a 1/4 cup) to loosen it up if it needs it. Add the cup of grated cheese and stir it into the pasta dish. Taste for addition of salt and/or black pepper. Remove from heat.

Add cooked spaghetti and mix in parm cheese

Add cooked spaghetti and mix in parm cheese

 Serve in warmed bowls with drizzle of extra-virgin oil and some more cheese (if you have a really good quality oil that you save for special occasions, now is the time to break it out!).

Serve in warmed bowls (or eat straight form the pan with a couple of forks!)

Serve in warmed bowls (or eat straight from the pan with a couple of forks!)

 

 

 

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