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Lately I’ve been studying all things olive oil.  I was thinking of all the beautiful ingredients involved in Italian cuisine, and had the random thought that I didn’t just want to make tasty Mediterranean food, but I wanted to really know it.  I thought of how delicious the simplest food is when its done really really well.  There is nothing like the combination of a crusty bread, fresh mozzarella (and I do not mean the mass produced kind you buy at Wegmans), basil and tomatoes with a little olive oil drizzled on top.  Its different when the tomatoes are grown on the slope of a volcano.  In the town of Tropea, I had an onion that was so amazingly delicious that I sat happily dipping it in the oil & vinegar on my plate munching on the slices as if they were something else like carrots or red pepper spears.  Its amazing to me that food is bred to make it look a certain way on the supermarket shelf, rather than taste the most flavorful way.  I want to get back to the way things taste, at their most fundamental level.  Olive oil seems the best place to start – and if not, at least its the most romantic place to start.

Cracked Pepper Spaghetti

I’ll go into more detail on my olive oil education later.  Tonight I want to share a quick recipe, or rather, a basis for whatever recipe you want it to become.  In Italy, when its late, and you’re tired and you have nothing in the house, this (or some variation of this) is what you throw together. Basically its infused olive oil – so simple, yet surprisingly satisfying.

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1/2 – 3/4 c  minced flat leaf parsley
5 – 6 minced garlic cloves
1/2 ish tsp. crushed red pepper
salt & cracked pepper to taste
1/2 – 3/4 c  good quality olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti
some people add anchovies.  not me, but feel free.

IMG_5901Put your water on to boil first, this doesn’t take very long.

Heat the oil in a skillet, and keep the heat on the low – medium side.  You want to avoid bringing the oil temperature too high – you’ll lose the flavor and the health benefits if it starts to smoke.

Toss your spices in the oil and let them simmer in the oil for a few minutes. When the parsley starts to turn from bright to dark green, and you can smell everything in the air its done.

IMG_5915Toss it all with your spaghetti and sprinkle with some nice salty Parmesan or Romano.  Its like the adult version of the butter and cheese noodles that picky kids demand.  Enjoy.