Sometimes you just need a big bowl of pasta, am I right? I know I do. Whether it’s regular pasta, whole wheat pasta, gluten-free pasta, Paleo pasta—there’s something about a big bowl of noodles in front of you that makes the evening more comforting (and more delicious). This simple weeknight pasta is full of layers of flavor from fresh and dry herbs, really good Parmesan cheese, garlic, good olive oil, and salt and pepper—that’s it! It’s done in under 20 minutes, and you can use it as a base for any type of protein (or not) and even additional vegetables. It’s also perfect with a simple side salad, like the winter citrus salad from a few posts back, and maybe some wine and either a good movie or TV show while you cuddle under a blanket or maybe put some candles on the table. Warm, comforting and delicious—this recipe for simple weeknight pasta is perfect for unwinding from a busy day!
In our house, we have Fun Food Fridays where we eat food we don’t normally eat during the week (more junky, less healthy, in other words). It’s our treat meal, and we often go for pasta of some sort. My husband stays with regular wheat pasta, while I go for gluten-free or Paleo (although my husband actually does love the Paleo-friendly pasta from Capello’s, which speaks to the taste). But on a Friday night, at the end of a tiring and busy week, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on a big meal. That’s why this pasta is so appealing.
One of the secrets to adding flavor is to salt the water, as I outlined in the blog about how to cook pasta from a few years ago. According to Italian tradition, the water must be “salty as the sea”—this helps season the pasta before anything else goes in. You need to also be careful to cook the pasta to just al-dente, or while it still has a nice bite. For some reason, this really adds to the end result.
You will also want to make sure you reserve at least a cup of the salty-starchy pasta water before you drain the cooked pasta. You will use this water, although probably not the entire thing, to create a sort of silky-creamy sauce with all of the ingredients. Without the water, the ingredients just stick to the pasta and everything becomes really dry. The whole dish is just more satisfying when everything is “loosened” with the pasta water. It’s kind of a magical ingredient, really.
Before you begin, make sure you have everything ready—pasta, strainer, grated Parmesan, garlic chopped, etc. Everything moves pretty quickly, so you’ll want to have everything ready to go.
Finally, a note on the Parmesan and olive oil. This dish will be so much better if you use a block of good Parmesan and good olive oil.
- 2 servings of pasta, cooked until al dente according to package
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, or to taste, finely chopped
- ½ cup of good Parmesan cheese, grated finely
- ¼ cup of finely chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp. of good olive oil
- 3 tsp. salt
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Add the three teaspoons of salt to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook your pasta of choice (wheat, gluten-free, Paleo, etc.) until al dente. Reserve at least half a cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
- Finely chop both the garlic and the parsley and grate the Parmesan cheese.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat. Once hot, add the garlic and keep stirring until fragrant, about 10 minutes. The garlic should be cooked, but not browned or burnt.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the pasta, cheese, and parsley and mix quickly and thoroughly. Add the salt and pepper to taste (we use a lot of pepper). Add the reserved pasta water to the mix, splashing a little bit in at a time, until the sauce is smooth and silky and the pasta no longer sticks together.
- Garnish with a bit more parmesan and any leftover parsley and serve!
When you’re not sure what to do for dinner or it’s late, you just got home, you’re starving and you have no idea what to eat for dinner, this pasta is perfect! Especially since most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry or fridge!
‘Till next time!