Long, rounded and thin spaghetti is probably the most iconic kind of pasta loved by young and old. In fact, this degree of admiration has even afforded it its own day on Jan. 4. There are few things in life more satisfying than slurping spaghetti up with a great sauce to pair with. Here, we'll share two classics and one not-so-classic recipe, as well as a gluten-free alternative, to mark this delicious day.
Some facts about spaghetti
Before we start, let's look at some facts. We use the word for this Italian food so liberally, but what does it actually mean? Spaghetti is actually the plural of spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “twine, thin string.”
One of TV’s first April Fools pranks involved spaghetti growing on trees. It was in 1957 when spaghetti was considered an exotic dish. The BBC went so far as to say that severe frost would impact the taste of the spaghetti and that they all grew to the exact same length.
When in doubt, go for the classics. Juicy tomatoes meet with hearty minced meat to make for a simple and delicious, filling and economical sauce for all to enjoy.
Chop the garlic as finely as possible and cook it with a bit of oil, chopped onions and carrots until the onions have softened and turned translucent. Add the meat and cook it until it browns. Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce and season to your liking. Thyme gives it that classic flavor so don’t hesitate to add some more, but make sure to taste test at intervals to not overdo it. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering away cook the spaghetti in salted water. Once drained, give each serving of pasta a generous scoop of your sauce and top off with a great helping of grated Parmesan if so desired.
Some Italians like to add celery or capsicum to Bolognese, which is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables. If you like sticking to tradition, you can also add in half a cup of dry red wine right after the meat has browned. Let it boil on high heat for one to two minutes before you add in tomatoes or the passata (tomato puree).
Spaghetti with pesto
It can only get as Italian as this. While, personally, I have bigger favorites, it is a rich and delicious way to enjoy pasta and a great way to use some basil from your herb garden at home.
Toast the pine nuts on low heat without any oil in a pan until they have turned a light brown color. This may take a few minutes so be patient and do not crank up the heat as the nuts will easily burn.
Meanwhile, chop the garlic and grate the Parmesan, pick and wash the basil leaves. Add them all into a food processor or blender with the pine nuts and olive oil. Once you get a fine, smooth consistency season to your liking.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions provided on the packet. Make sure to salt the water before you put your pasta in and save about half a cup of this water when draining. Later add a few tablespoons of this into your pesto sauce to loosen it up a bit. Make sure all of the spaghetti is covered in the sauce by mixing thoroughly and serve with some extra Parmesan grated on top.
Creamy lemon spaghetti
Creamy sauces and soups are always a crowd favorite. I usually achieve my desired creaminess in two ways: by using heavy cream or making a simple Bechamel sauce by cooking flour in butter or olive oil with a splash of milk and a sprinkle of salt and pepper (nutmeg is also a nice touch). When I stumbled upon this recipe, I was in love. Working with cream cheese is both simple and extremely delicious. The best part is that the preparation time is at a minimum with a great result to boot.
Chop the garlic finely and fry it lightly in a bit of olive oil. Add the cream cheese and lemon juice and mix until the cream cheese melts completely. Add the broth, stir well and season to your liking.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions and drain. Add the spaghetti to the sauce, mix and serve.
Instead of broth, you can always add a bit of the pasta water to your creamy lemon sauce.
Topping your spaghetti with some fresh vegetables is a great idea. Tomatoes or cucumbers are my favorites as they give a nice little color and fresh, crunchy texture.
If you like lemons a lot, make sure to add in the meaty part of the lemon as well. Once you have squeezed out all of the juice, you can either cut the meaty bits out of them or depending on how soft your lemon is, scoop them out with a spoon. The more sour flavor there is in the sauce, the better it tastes.
The most simple and nutritious way to achieve this is with zoodles, aka zucchini noodles. Once only a trendy food in vegetarian cafes, now many people opt for this alternative. You can create your own either with a hand spiralizer or by cutting them into thin strips yourself. Other gadgets such as mandolin slicers or a variety of attachments on food processors are a great help as well, but there are a few things to keep in mind when cooking them.
If you want to make any of these sauces to go with your zoodles, you can just pour the sauce on top. You don't even have to cook your zoodles for long if you like a bit of a bite. My advice, when it comes to sauce, would be to make sure that the sauce is not too thin. As zucchinis, just like their cucumber brothers, have high water content, they will start releasing their juices when heated or after coming into contact with salt. With the lemony sauce, it's best to skip the broth part.
If you want to avoid wateriness completely, sprinkle the zoodles with some salt and let them rest for a few minutes. You can drain the excess water and then proceed with your cooking. The longer you let them rest the less water they’ll release afterward.
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