The other day Sophie and I were talking about pasta. We do that a lot.
We were discussing how everyone has their own twist on traditional dishes. For instance, even with something as seemingly straight forward as Cacio e Pepe, there are infinite variations in technique. Cheese in the bowl first? With a bit of cooking water? Or cold mineral water? Or no water at all? Pepper with the cheese? Or in the pan heated with water? We’ve seen it all.
“Well,” I said, “At least with Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino it’s always the same.”
“Yeah,” Sophie said, “Except that everyone I know in Rome also adds anchovies.”
According to Sophie everyone she knows who makes this ultimate comfort food in Rome also adds anchovies. Except, she explained, you’d never know it. “They sort of melt into the oil, and so just give it that extra umami, “ she explained, “Which is kind of what you’re craving at 5am after you’ve been out dancing all night.”
Which explains why everyone she knows is making Aglio, Olio Peperoncino all the time. It’s what you have in the house when you come home from a long night out. (It is also what you probably have in your cupboard when you have to get dinner on the table and there’s nothing else in the house. So there’s that.)
And so without much ado, here is a video of Sophie, doing her thing.
At a much more reasonable hour than usual.
A few words about ingredients:
You’ll notice that Sophie used preserved red pepper, instead of either dried or fresh. We didn’t use fresh, since it’s not the right season. And these days we’re preferring preserved red pepper, processed at the height of the season from specific producers, over dried. It always gives a brighter, fruitier and more intense flavor than dried, in our humble opinion. The one you see above and in the video is produced in Sicily, available here, and excellent. Another one we are totally addicted to is produced by Iasa (the same folks who make amazing anchovies) and available here.
Pasta: we used Garafolo, which I think is one of the best pastas around for a relatively low price . In Italy you can find it easily in Supermarkets, and in the States you can buy it on Amazon, for a great price.
At the end, use a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. We used Frescobaldi Laudemio which is outstanding.
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