No question, one of the defining themes of Covid has been food.
Cooking it. Eating it. Enjoying it with half a case of wine.
During lockdown, we had the time on our hands to experiment in ways we had never done. Indeed, given we couldn’t eat out, Nat and I would regularly recreate some of the most wonderful restaurant meals we had previously had.
I remember one meal where Nat recreated the incredible lobster and four-cheese Macaroni and Cheese from the best steakhouse in Honolulu – Mortons – and wow, looking back – at 1,570 calories a serve – Covid really did give us cover to do things culinarily that we wouldn’t otherwise do for a Monday lunch!
Of course, in Australia, we have moved back to relative normality which made it interesting to read the most popular recipes cooked the past year according to the NYTimes: America truly being the the opposite of our normality.
Like so much of our Covid, it kicked off with pasta.
Pasta that takes half an afternoon to cook.
A pasta that can – should – be cooked in pyjamas.
And a pasta that is on a whole other level of amazing.
Two-hat Italian amazing.
Slow-cooked onions always deliver though this is your case-in-point. Do this early afternoon, reheat when friends come around and blow them away.
(Ensuring all the bottles are in the recycling bin and the pyjamas are swapped for something a bit more acceptable.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 large shallots, sliced very thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 can anchovy fillets (about 12 anchovies, drained though not rinsed)
170gm tomato paste
1 pack spaghetti
Good handful of parsley chopped
- Open a good Pinot. It is a must.
- Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic, season and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become caramelised with golden-brown fried edges. The slower you can cook them, the better, though they will get there.
- Cook your pasta, remembering to reserve some pasta water: this is important.
- Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies drained straight from the can; there is no need to chop them as they will dissolve when cooked. Stir for two minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and season again. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil, caramelising at the edges and turning from bright red to a deeper, rusty brick colour: 2 or so minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce pot and slowly start to pour some of the pasta water, combining the pasta with the sauce. Add small amounts of water at a time until the pasta is all coated. Add a little more for when the pasta and sauce cool.
- Plate your pasta and top with Parmesan, flaky salt and fresh parsley.