Ever since I read Fifth Flavor’s post about making pasta without boiling water, I’ve wanted to try out this “radical” method demonstrated by a Vancouver based chef. I was doubtful at first but the temptation of cooking a pasta dish without having to wash extra pots won me over.
Instead of making linguine with clams, I opted to use a more summer apropos recipe fashioned from one of my favorite pasta dishes at Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles. The ingredient list is simple and prep work is quick: two roma tomatoes (diced), 3 medium cloves of garlic (minced), 8 leaves of chopped basil, and chunks of fresh mozzarella (I used ciliegine from TJs, each cut into halves or thirds), salt and chili flakes (to taste), olive oil, and of course dried linguine. Most of the quantities is really up to individual taste, you can’t go wrong with the combinations.
While I was prepping the ingredients, I brought 3 cups of water to a boil. Yes, I know it goes against the grain of the subject matter but it helps to speed up the cooking time and it’s one little bitty pot. Just one.
First, I put a generous amount of olive oil in a large sauce pan and sautéed the garlic, chili, salt, and half of the tomatoes and basil over medium to hi heat (don’t let the garlic brown). I let the mixture cook down a bit and added about a cup of the boiling water and let it simmer for about a minute to draw out the flavors. Then following Chef Pino’s video, I scooped out the solid ingredients with a slotted spoon and saved it for later since I didn’t want them to disintegrate to mush while the pasta cooked.
The dry linguine went into the sauce along with the remainder of the boiling water and I covered the pot to let it come to a boil and left the pasta to keep cooking. Since I was cooking for just me, the amount of water I used was enough to cover a portion of linguine that measured maybe an inch in diameter. Once the pasta was al dente, I took the pasta out with a pair of tongs and plated it. There was still a bit too much water for my liking remaining in the pan so I left it on the heat to reduce it further and it was already slightly thickened due to starch from the pasta. In the video, chef Pino disposes of the extra water but I didn’t want to waste the flavor.
After the liquid reduced to my liking (there was probably about 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid left), I returned the cooked tomato mixture to the pan, added more olive oil, as well as the remaining tomatoes and basil, giving it a quick sauté to soften the tomatoes slightly but not lose color, and also added some more salt to season. Finally, right before I took the pan off the heat, I threw in the chunks of mozzarella which quickly melted into mixture. The whole thing was quickly spooned onto the waiting pasta and devoured by yours truly.
I am completely in love with this pasta cooking method. The linguine was indeed more flavorful having absorbed the flavor of the base ingredients. Also the sauce had a fantastic consistency due to the starch released by the pasta and so it clung better to the linguine. In the past when I’ve made this dish the conventional way, the resulting sauce was sometimes too watery and slipped off the noodles. Best yet, the entire meal took about 25 minutes to make, including prep time. So quick and effortless, it can easily be adapted to a variety of recipes.