8/22/05 | Barilla Thin Spaghetti
[ Currently Eating: Taco Plate ]
I haven’t put a recipe up on Cheap Eats in such a long time because I haven’t had much chance to cook lately. Well, the other day at the supermarket we picked up 2 packages of Barilla Thin Spaghetti because they were only 99 cents each (this is fairly cheap for Barilla which is more expensive than Anthony brand spaghetti or super market generic spaghetti). But I didn’t really get to make a “real” recipe, just some fast tomato basil pasta… but I’m going to put up the recipe anyhow. We got basil for free (someone actually grew it) so that was why I decided to make it.
I don’t know if it’s because Barilla comes in a box so it seems more “upscale” or something, but I always preferred their quality over generic. Their mostaccioli, penne, and bowtie pasta is actually pretty decent too. We dig “Thin Spaghetti” over Angel Hair pasta… angel hair doesn’t seem to soak up enough sauce and also seems too much like Japanese Somen which we eat a lot of already. It also seems easier to cook thin spaghetti exactly “al dente” than normal spaghetti. Somehow more forgiving.
Anyhow, here’s one take on fast garlic, basil and tomatoes pasta. Note this isn’t conventional thick “spaghetti ragu sauce” … I just make it to barely coat the noodles. I’m sure you have your own variations:
Quick Basil and Tomato Pasta
1/2 box Barilla pasta — $0.50
Basil, cut in a chiffonade — Free, hopefully
6 cloves garlic, slivered or minced — $0.10
Olive oil (1-2 tbsp) — $0.10
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes — $0.45
Parmesan cheese (1/4 oz of $3.50 8oz can) — $0.11
1 tsp of dried oregano — $0.05
pinch of red pepper flakes — $0.02
1 tbsp sugar — $0.02
salt, pepper — negligible
Start boiling a lot of water in a big pot for the pasta. Wash the basil, remove stems so there are only the leaves. Set aside. Peel and mince (or sliver if desired) all 6 garlic cloves. In a skillet, heat up 1 tbsp of the olive oil (extra virgin olive oil tastes best) over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the oregano (if dried, roll between fingers to release more flavor), garlic, red pepper flakes and a few grinds of black pepper to the oil and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Don’t let the garlic and oregano burn, turn the heat down if needed.
Open up the can of tomatoes and add it to the pan, along with the liquid from the tomatoes. Add the sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-20 minutes. Depends on how blended you like your sauce. Meanwhile, add thin spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta in collander, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
Now cut up your basil. Add pasta, cooking water, and remaining olive oil to sauce in pan and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper to taste. Serve in plate topped with parmesan cheese and basil.
Unless you happen to have an herb garden with fresh basil (and maybe even oregano), you’ll have to buy your herbs and this can be quite expensive. As such, I don’t make this unless I happen to have bought basil from a previous recipe or have gotten it from someone else’s garden.
To cut basil in a chiffonade, what you need to do is take 3 leaves or so of basil and roll it up. With a sharp knife cut the roll as thin as you can. Rolling it first is easier than trying to sliver a basil leaf when it’s flat. You should end up with slivers of basil.
I like using Petite Diced Tomatoes in any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes in a pasta sauce. They just seem to be the exact right size for sauce… cooking them for awhile makes them break down just a bit so the sauce is chunky yet homogeneous. Of course, there are those who do the whole roma tomato ice bath method to peel the skins, but I find it’s so much easier and cheaper to use canned.
For more flavor, you can add butter in place of some of the olive oil. I like to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it makes it taste sort of fruity and fragrant. It’s especially good when you add a little olive oil straight to your finished pasta dish, because it helps to sort of coat the noodles.
Cheap Eats Score: 6/10