Pasta. Pasta pasta pasta. Pasta is my favorite thing to eat for lunch, for dinner, for a snack, for a pick-me-up, for a burst of energy, for a saucy post-bar nightcap, with friends, with family, with Allie, or with nobody in the universe but me. Any time hunger strikes and I’m near a stove and the goods, the thought flickers. Strands in boiling salt water. Stirring and waiting. Steam clouding the microwave. The shapes. The textures. The cerebral road winding back from the present, across oceans, over mountains, through villages and farmhouses, and into radiant starch-clouded pockets of the past.
What are the goods? The goods are pasta, pasta plus anything. The other day when I wanted something simple, the goods were four: local tomatoes, flavored oil, garlic, and elicoidali (a helix-shaped pasta similar to rigatoni).
I was working. I was hungry. The old thought flickered. I didn’t want a time-draining production that could ruin my morning-into-afternoon momentum, so I opted for a simple pasta to knock out the craving.
Italian cooking is about using a few simple ingredients. First up, enough thyme-and-garlic flavored olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Second, three or four cloves of garlic, cooked in that oil for about a minute. Third: three cups of Jersey tomato passata (purée), which may seem like a flood for half a pound of pasta. (Not when you love extra sauce!) After letting the simmer roll for 30, or for 4-6 hours when I’m making a heartier sauce, we’re ready for my favorite lunch. -Chris