This is probably my favorite weeknight meal and don’t let the name fool you – its extremely simple. The key is using all the right ingredients. When everything comes together, it’s a dish you can serve up in a snap on a weekday night or one you can serve to guests on the weekend. We originally had this at Carrabba’s and once I had a bite I knew that I had to replicate it at home.
When Jim and I got married we lived in Rochester, NY. Now if you have ever lived in the north, you know that there is no shortage of wonderful Italian restaurants. We would often take clients out for lunch and go way down into the city to these little “hole in the wall” wood-paneled restaurants and they would be packed with older men ordering dishes like tripe and beans and greens. We had a great little restaurant down the street called Guido’s Pasta Villa and their Chicken Parm was the best I have ever tasted. With the migration down south for so many northerner’s, we have benefited from some great Italian Restaurants in this area, too. We have a few in our town and some excellent pizza shops. So, you can imagine why I find it kind of funny that we have grown to love Carrabba’s as much as we do. My oldest daughter could make a dinner on their calamari and bread with dipping oil alone.
So, this dish is a wonderful mixture of great ingredients. I use canned diced tomatoes, and the key is to get San Marzano – or at least the best tomatoes you can get your hands on. You can also cut up your own tomatoes, but quite honestly, I kinda like the taste of the canned in this (plus, time is money, people.) You will also want to use good olive oil and cheese. Slice your garlic as thin as you can (think Goodfellas) and you MUST MUST MUST use angel hair pasta. I have tried other pastas and it’s just not the same. Oh yes – and fresh basil. Did I say this dish is all about the ingredients yet??
Tagliarini Picchi Pacchiu
8 oz. Angel Hair Pasta – use whole wheat if you are trying to make this healthier
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4-5 Garlic cloves sliced very thin
1 14 oz can of San Marzano diced tomatoes – mostly drained however its ok if there is still some juice
salt and pepper to taste
a good handful basil cut into a chiffonade*
1-2 tablespoons of butter (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Additional Olive oil for finishing the dish (optional)
Cook pasta according to directions on box. Heat oil over medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes and watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.) Add tomatoes and cook through until heated. Finally, add basil, butter (if using) salt and pepper and give it another 1-2 minutes to cook through. Plate your pasta and, if desired, toss with some olive oil and red pepper flakes. Spoon sauce over pasta and finish with freshly grated cheese.
*To chiffonade basil, place 5-6 leaves on top of each other and roll into a tight little log. Slice the basil perpendicular so that you end up with little strips. Easy peasy!