Monday, November 24, 2008

Spaghetti With Onions

And, we're back! The Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of "Urinetown" was a blast, but very time-consuming, and I've spent the time since the show closed to catch up on the rest of life. One big wonderful thing: my kitchen's recovered! I can cook, whenever I like, with a clean kitchen and a shiny sink.

I just had dinner, a simple spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and freshly crushed red pepper (a reminder of this summer's harvest, and the coworkers who have abundant gardens). Last night, dinner was ziti with some doctored up jarred sauce. It's just a few days until Thanksgiving, and this week seems to be about keeping it really simple before the big feast. If you're of the same mind, try this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites:
Spaghetti with Onions

We modified this recipe from Ed Giobbi, who found it in a very old Italian cookbook. Just as he says, it's a winner.

The pasta is only partially cooked when you add it to the sauce, so as it finishes cooking, it releases the rest of its starch, creating a sauce so thick and unctuous you'd swear it had cheese in it -- a bit of kitchen wizardry at work!

4 large onions
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground fennel (optional)
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup skim milk
1 cup canned tomatoes, crushed or coarsely chopped (8-ounce can)
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

Slice off the ends of the onions. Cut each onion in half lengthwise and remove the peel. Lice each half lengthwise into strips.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

While the water heats, pour the oil into a large skillet or wide soup pot and add the onion and fennel, if using. Sauté, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Ease the spaghetti into the boiling water, stir, and cover. Cook the spaghetti for just 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the milk and tomatoes to the onions. The milk will curdle, but don't worry. Cover and gently simmer.

When the spaghetti has cooked exactly 5 minutes, drain it and add it immediately to the onion mixture. Simmer the spaghetti in the sauce for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is smooth. Drizzle in a little more milk if the sauce becomes too stiff. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.
Total time: 40 minutes.
Here's for a spaghetti recipe that acknowledges that one pound of pasta is NOT eight servings! Hurrah for a really big plate full of noodles so unctuous the recipe actually uses the word "unctuous."

I'm fond of this recipe in part because of the phrase "don't worry." It's reassuring at a point that most cooks would probably freak out. "Holy crap, it's CURDLING!!!" you might shriek (if you were me) as you then dumped out the entire mess, served the spaghetti with a (large) pat of butter, and uncorking a bottle for a big consolation glass of wine. But no. The Moosewood folks want you to know that you're on the right track, even when it looks like you're not. Good times.

We'll finish up with Moosewood this week, before Thanksgiving. On the big day, I'll share recipes not from a cookbook, but from our table. And then we'll start anew, with a cookbook a week, and a recipe a day.

Take One Cookbook is back!

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